Miami—vibrant with culture, gleaming with sunshine, and surrounded with some of the most amazing people on earth. It could be easy to become immersed in the city’s immense beauty and all that is has to offer. Yet, if you take the time to notice the underlying needs that it has, you’ll see that there is a lot of brokenness.
The same can go for any given city around the world. If you ever have become troubled and felt driven to change a city, then you are not alone. You are in the same spirit Paul was in nearly 2,000 years ago in Greece’s epicenter of culture, philosophy, and religion—Athens. Oftentimes, what bothers you the most, may be what God is calling you to change.
Pastor Rich Wilkerson, Jr. dove into Acts 17:16-33, where Paul finds himself in Athens, waiting. In Paul’s waiting, he sees passed the beauty and culture and notices the idolatry within the city. This drives him to become distressed and bothered.
We learn that he became compelled to transform the city and in doing so, left us an excellent blueprint on what it looks like to change that which bothers. In a city of many gods with many names, Paul proclaims that there is a God, unknown to them, that has a name and his name is Jesus.
There were three key ingredients in this story that helped Paul transform the city:
Directly after Paul became bothered by the idolatry of Athens, he visited the local church. He shared the gospel and began to reason with the people within the church.
Gathering big, builds us up in our faith and unites like minded people to pursue a unified goal. A city, however, is not changed solely through gathering big and Paul understood that.
Paul would regularly enter into the marketplace of the city to make God known. We are carriers of light but what good is light if it is hidden?
The “marketplace” is literal just as it is figurative. Your marketplace may be your local community store but you can also make Jesus known at your job, your school, and family.
Presenting a new message into a different world view does not come without mockery or disbelief. There will be some that mock you, like the Epicureans and Stoics did to Paul, but those that mock you are more curious than they let on.
Being public with your faith and living it out causes others to watch and become intrigued about the God that you serve.
Although Paul was mocked for preaching in the marketplace, he was later invited by those that mocked him into their inner circle. Paul took the invitation and used it as a platform, not to mock their culture or beliefs, but to establish a connection with them.
Using that connection and their altar of the unknown god as a thesis for his message. Paul relates to the listeners and uses quotes from the pagan poets and philosophers of the time to point the people towards Jesus.
Let us not be so quick to correct that we don’t connect. Use your platform, to bring people together, and ultimately lead them to a God with a name, Jesus.
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