“While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.”21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)” Acts 17.16-21
Paul was about the business of preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. This was his agenda, his mission, and the ministry. Its the central cause of the Church. It’s not crazy woke agendas. It’s not just a social gospel without Jesus. It’s not human rights. Paul brought what we all should bringing — the saving grace of Jesus. Once this is brought, every other issue plays out according to God’s Word and will.
These were new ideas to these Greek and Jewish philosophers. They were in Athens, a hub for ideas and conversations. They were open to hearing new concepts and teachings. What Paul was offering was “strange to their ears,” and yet they were eager to hear it. And why wouldn’t they be? God’s Good News brings life, healing, love and salvation. What God offers through Jesus Christ is found no where else. The meaning of life, the significance of our existence, the purpose of our being is all found in God. And so these Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with Paul and asked, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting?”
Imagine the Gospel being new to your ears. When I first heard, and received, that I could have a personal relationship with Christ, I was seventeen. My youth leader asked, ‘Did you know you could know God personally?” The idea of a personal relationship was new to me. It wasn’t knowing about God. It wasn’t just loving the Church and the things of God. It was knowing him for myself.
And so, that week at youth camp, I asked Jesus to be my personal Lord and Savior. He was wooing me, winning me, willing me to himself. Upon making that decision I was like John Wesley who said, “I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.” This was my experience as well.
Since that day I have not felt abandoned by Christ or apart from his presence. When I found myself in sin, I repented and returned (although sometimes it took longer than it should have.) I felt the power of his Spirit in me, around me and upon me. His grace covered me and I have this assurance to this day.
The Gospel may not be a new idea to you, you may have heard it your whole life, but have you received it for yourself? Have you said yes to a personal relationship with a loving God? Have you committed your ways to him? Have you found yourself kneeling at the foot of the cross, submitting your heart into his hands?
“O Lord God, you are good. I love you Lord and pursuing you is my life. It’s not what I do for you, this matters, but not as much as pursuing you. I want to chase after you. To find you willing and able. To find you close to my heart and me in the middle of your will. come now, Holy Father, draw me to your throne. Save those who are lost. Use us to spread your news of goodness and grace to all we meet. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen