Have you ever been shot down in front of people for saying or doing something? It's embarrassing. I'm guessing the most common reactions when that happens is to either shut down and flee or fight back and lash out. Sadly, I'm generally more of a lash out, let me put you in your place type of person.
One time many years ago, the first day of class in my first year of college my professor started the class by saying, "If you're a Christian raise your hand." I was seriously excited as I raised my hand since I knew a total of 1 person on campus and thought this could be an opportunity to find some Christian friends. As I was looking around spotting the two other hands, the professor went on, "You won't be by the end of this class. I teach evolution and if you don't like it you can get out." So, my sassy little self gathered my things and walked out in a effort to show him. Or maybe it was an effort to protect my pride of being shot down in front of people. I'm not sure.
I'm quite confident Paul wouldn't have responded this way. In Acts 17, just this 1 chapter, he gets kicked out of three different cities and yet he doesn't pull a storm out in a huff or a timid retreat out of fear. In Thessalonica a mob of people were shouting about how awful they were. In Berea things were going great but the crazy people from Thessalonica came up and started "agitating the crowds" talking bad about him again. Yet there is no mention of Paul getting his tunic in a bunch. He doesn't start complaining about how here he is serving God and this is how he's treated and repaid. Nope. Just determination to stay on mission.
So here's how all this relates to apologetics. After being kicked out of Thessalonica and Berea, he goes to Athens to wait for his buddies Silas and Timothy. "While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there." Acts 17:16-17
As he is waiting for Silas and Timothy before starting his normal ministry, he sees their idols and is moved to the point that he can't help but share the gospel. Isn't that the case. When we really see someone compassion forms in our heart and moves us to action. And what is the best thing that we could ever give someone? The gospel.
Cool-headed Paul didn't get stuck on the idols trying to get rid of all of them. He stuck to Jesus. Have you ever done that? Instead of focusing on Jesus, tried to fix someone's sin problems when they aren't even Christians (without the ability of the Holy Spirit to change them). Paul knew the life and heart changing gospel is the thing that pushes out idols.
And get this, in Paul's day the reason they had idols in the first place is because the people before him hadn't scattered and taken the gospel to the world like the Lord wanted them to do. (This goes way back to even Gen. 11 and the tower of Babel. But that's a different article.) Same with today and the crazy things people put before God. For instance, in my beautiful city of Denver where 95% of the people are unchurched, we just legalized marijuana and just a few days ago there was a political event trying to pass a law making gay marriage legal. The majority of the time the main issue talked about was shutting down Christian adoption agencies that wouldn't let gay couples adopt.
Idols. But of course! Less than 5% of all Christians will ever share the gospel in their lifetime. And only 10-15% of people come to Christ through an “event", so if people aren't being reached personally with the gospel, the only thing that can rescue them from idols, shouldn't we expect this and more?
Do the modern day idols move us to share the gospel? And if so do we have the mental ability to stay on topic of Jesus like Paul did? Are we able to reason from scripture? Are you able to explain and prove how Jesus is God and why He is the only way?
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Laura, the creator and host of Missional Women is married and has three kids, two of who are adopted. They have been missionaries to college students for 11 years serving with Master Plan Ministries. Laura has discipled over 150 girls, led over 30 Bible studies and speaks 10-20 times a year. Laura is an award winning author of a 12 week Bible Study on First Samuel, Beholding Him, Becoming Missional, recently released Reach; How to Use Your Social Media Influence for the Glory of God, and Glimpse of Glory; A Devotional Journey through the book of Judges, a FREE devotional which accompanies the online Bible studyTheBookofJudges.com.
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1/30/2013 10:49:11 pm
Great topic. I was raised in a "Christian" home, got saved 11 years ago at age 21, but never knew how to defend my faith until the last couple of years when I starting seminary. It just wasn't taught. I never could have told you why the Bible is true, or how we know Jesus was resurrected. Even in seminary - it was easy to study the material for the class, and then forget. So I'm starting to blog about it as a way to not only help others, but remind myself. I want to be able to share what I believe in a loving, rational, irrefutable way when opportunities arise to do so. Thanks for the call to action!
2/2/2013 11:57:45 am
What a GREAT idea!!! I forget things so easily too. And what a blessing to others!!
2/1/2013 08:47:06 am
What a challenging and inspiring post! Thank you for making me think about keeping first things first vs. getting caught up in judging others' idols or behavior and forgetting that it is an opportunity to extend the grace and truth of Christ.
2/2/2013 12:00:30 pm
It is so easy to do. I think it comes from a longing for heaven, the place we were built for. Wanting things to be perfect yet our flesh tends to want to leave out the cross.
2/8/2013 01:54:10 pm
So challenging. I want to be able to defend God, His goodness, and who He is.
3/20/2013 09:33:14 pm
Such a good desire, a gift from God really. :)
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