Friday, March 2, 2012

Paul in Athens


The Orange County Register’s article on Rick Warren’s latest project brought to mind Paul’s street sermon in Athens:

Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. (Acts 17:22 KJV)

Doesn’t sound as though Paul is asking them to find common points between what Athenians worshipped and the gospel Paul brings to them.

For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. (Acts 17:23 KJV)

It does sound to me that Paul is declaring there is a difference between the Athenian’s worship and the truth that Paul brings to them.

God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; (Acts 17:24 KJV)

Paul states plainly who is Lord of heaven and earth. 

And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; (Acts 17:26 KJV)

Mankind has yet to accept this message. Color and culture notwithstanding, we share this earth as God planned.  We just need to share as He said.

That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: (Acts 17:27 KJV)

We haven’t learned this lesson, either.  God is findable, if we look, and there are plenty of people suggesting we do so.

Up to this point, I believe Rick Warren and Muslims visiting with him would find agreement.  However, Paul goes further.  If Christians believe Luke’s writing of Paul’s words, the separation becomes evident:

Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. (Acts 17:31 KJV)

Accepting Issa (Jesus, for the Muslim) does not mean accepting the resurrection. A dividing line, for me.  Jesus, Christ, Son of God, Savior. Definitely a dividing line for the Muslims who have discussed religion with me.

Any number of religions may work together in a community to provide for the poor, assistance for those in need, health support, and interact within their secular community – but believers in those religions most likely would draw a line regarding worship services. I know I would.  I would also follow the writer of Hebrews:

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: (Hebrews 12:14 KJV)

Part of that holiness is adherence to the greatest commandments:

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40 KJV)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for taking time to read and comment on the blog. Comments should take into consideration this verse: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8 KJV)