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Just Talking And Listening

Acts 17:19-21
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? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.' (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.) (NIVUK)

Paul had probably not intended to start his evangelistic mission in Athens without Silas and Timothy (Acts 17:15). But he got drawn into a discussion about Jesus with the local and visiting philosophers (Acts 17:18). His exposition of the death and resurrection of Jesus was novel to them; an intriguing idea for them to debate. So they invited, or forced, Paul to address the court of the Areopagus.

This council had been the supreme judicial court but when Paul was there it only had authority to decide matters of education and religion. Greek culture certainly sought knowledge but often did not know what to do with it. The professors (as we would call them today) believed that success in life depended on education, with a little religion. So they would talk and listen and question to find a new key to life, the world and the universe.

The way Luke describes them indicates that the 'ideas market' was a full time job: perhaps money was exchanged for new ideas. But it was not a place of action: listening, yes; talking, yes; debating and thinking, yes. But serious commitment to a new way of life, no. Much of this Greek thinking, about education with a little religion, still impregnates teaching and learning systems in many parts of the world; even where the gospel of Jesus has been preached and apparently accepted.

Such education has resulted in people who know about Jesus but do not know Him: people who are happy to patronise Christ's saving work but not submit themselves to Him; people who eagerly set up contests between science and the Bible, as long as the Bible does not have the last word. Wise believers, churches and pastors will ensure that their faith is firmly rooted in God's Word; that discipleship involves clear action in obeying God's Word; that education is interpreted in the light of our relationship with Jesus, rather than education defining what is believable. These are serious challenges to the 21st Century mind-set in education, business or the professions. Christian managers and workers have a special responsibility to obey God's Word, so that others can see that submitting to Christ's authority brings blessing in the workplace.

God, who knows everything and takes powerful action. Thank You for sending Jesus to accept the punishment which was due of me, and for stirring me to take action in committing myself to Him. Forgive me when I do not submit myself to You, learning without acting. Please help me to accept the challenge of being an active disciple of Jesus where I live and work. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams