Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Know, Share, Retire - Part 2

If you back up a little bit in the 17th chapter of Acts, you'll see that Paul is alone in the city of Athens, Greece.  He is walking around, waiting for Timothy and Silas to join him.  Athens was the greatest university town in the world.  People came from everywhere to study there.  It was a city of many gods; in fact, there were more statues of gods in Athens than all the rest of Greece combined.  You can imagine how much this made Paul itch to tell his story!  The scripture says he argued in the synagogues and even in the marketplace every day to anyone who happened to be there.  The philosophers in the city heard him, and they took him to the Areopagus - the Hill of Aries - the Hill of the God of War.  This is where the judicial council of the city met.  It's unclear whether they took him to this council, or only to the place it met, but verse 22 – which says, Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus -- seems to indicate the council was there.  And this is what he said (from verses 22-32):
Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, ‘Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, “To an unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For “In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said,
“For we too are his offspring.”
Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent,because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead."
Here, Paul is telling his story, and I think he is calling us to tell ours.  I want to explore that with you, using the framework of a model set forth by Dr. E. Stanley Jones.  Dr. Jones was born in 1884.  He spent 70 years traveling the world, and was a spokesperson for peace, racial brotherhood and social justice.  He was a constant witness for Jesus.  In 1938, Times Magazine called him the "world's greatest missionary evangelist." Dr. Jones wrote that the elements of evangelism are to know Christ; to introduce him; and then to retire.

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