With the release of the movie Paul, The Apostle of Christ, Paul gets the chance to speak to a broader audience from 2000 years ago and once again I am reminded that he was an opportunist. The art of capitalizing on opportunities is one Christians are losing. I don’t think it’s that we aren’t taking advantage of opportunities but how we are using opportunity seems to be the problem. But that’s where Paul gets my attention.
In Acts 17 we see Paul in great form. He was chased out of two cities by Jews who didn’t appreciate him proclaiming Jesus was the Messiah. We find him in Athens waiting for Silas and Timothy who are still sharing the Gospel in Berea.
“While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.”
He begins to “reason with” those in the synagogue and to “debate” in the marketplace. Like an ancient Facebook thread, this went on all day. Then they brought him to the Aeropagus. The conversation just got bigger and so did the topics.
Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said:
“People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship —and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.”
Paul then goes on to give a short mic drop of a sermon that includes these two verses.
28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill.
Paul exhibits an astounding ability to use popular culture to point to God. We have often gotten this backwards.
A couple of recent events have me thinking about this. One was the Joy Behar gaff where she insinuated that Vice President Pence and all Christians had a mental illness because they hear Jesus speak to them.
Now, Joy Behar. She has been a thorn in the side of Christians for some time. As a matter of fact, the entire View show has. The truth is, people are entitled to their point of view even if it’s skewed or wrong. So, should we be waiting to pounce? To take them out and force them to apologize for offending our sensitivities?
Did any Christian leaders out there think to address Joy’s point? Hearing voices is technically a sign of mental illness, right? Maybe it would have been the perfect opportunity to pounce? To leap, to seize an opportunity, to speak up and say,
“Joy you know what that is a good point. Let me explain where he is coming from. There are a couple of points you may not understand because you don’t understand the Christian faith. First of all, God desires to have relationship with us all. It’s why Jesus came to earth. John 14:6 says ‘6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ Jesus came to lead us to the Father. He came to reconnect us in relationship with God.
When we have an encounter with the living God, a salvation experience, we enter into this new relationship. Jesus used different metaphors to describe the relationship. One of them is that of sheep and shepherd. In John 10 Jesus says, ‘My sheep know me and hear my voice.’ In the old testament, Jeremiah 33:3 says, ‘call to me and I will answer you.’
You see Joy, He wants to communicate with us. I know it seems foreign and even crazy but God can do what He wants. You know the best part Joy? He wants to speak to you. Joy, He loves you with an everlasting love. He is calling to you. He is making an effort to draw you even now. All you have to do is respond and you will experience new life. Would you like to know the voice of God?”
Now, It may go sideways and not work out at all, but what if it did? What if her heart welled up with the presence of God and her life changed? Maybe we all could use a little more of Paul’s opportunistic spirit.
A prophetic person might even have a word for her. Something undeniable that would let her know we hear from God.
I am thinking about Good Friday. How Jesus gave himself for me, for us. It’s called Good Friday because the one who is truly good gave himself for those who hated him. People like myself, who has treated people horribly in my past. Are you thinking about you? About what Jesus did for you? How he made a way to the arms of our loving Father? How much grace, forgiveness and compassion did it take to do that for me, for you?
Guess what, He gave, and He has risen for the Joy Behars of the world and for the Doug Crews of the world the same. God loves you Joy Behar. I am imperfect, but I am choosing to love you.
Here’s to walking the process of growing in Father’s love together,