I am writing this week from a hotel room here in Athens, Greece (our Masters travel study tour), in the shadow of Mars Hill. This is the place where Paul delivered his very 21st century worship speech to the curious Athenian philosophers.
Paul’s worship conversations reveal that he believed that human beings were designed to worship the living God, but that misdirections of that worship chilled the human spirit – and would inevitably breed hopelessness and injustice.
“The longer Paul waited in Athens for Silas and Timothy, the angrier he got – all those idols! The city was a junkyard of idols. He discussed it with the Jews and other like-minded people at their meeting place. And every day he went out on the streets and talked with anyone who happened along. He got to know some of the Epicurean and Stoic intellectuals pretty well through these conversations….
…So Paul took his stand in the open space at the Areopagus and laid it out for them. ‘It is plain to see that you Athenians take your religion seriously. When I arrived here the other day, I was fascinated with all the shrines I came across. And then I found one inscribed, to the god nobody knows. I’m here to introduce you to this God so you can worship intelligently, know who you’re dealing with.'”
Acts 17:16-18; 17:22-23 (The Message)
Paul gets it when it comes to worship. He understood what we must – that everyone you meet was made for this encounter with the God who makes Himself known.
Paul builds a bridge with the people to whom he is speaking, even though historians confirm they were often filled with an arrogance of the mind, studying at the Athenian university in the shadow of the Acropolis.
Later, Paul resolved to simply shoot straight about Jesus in sensuous Corinth, but in Athens, he is starting on their turf, affirming their penchant to worship, and opening up their thoughts to resurrection (which is what changed the conversation – the Greeks had never even thought of resurrection – just life after death).
Extend the invitation to worship in your world today, by looking for areas in which the idea already exists in someone’s life.
Opa from your worship friends in Athens!
Learning Community Director