Earlier this week I posted a question on FaceBook . . . I was pretty surprised at the responses.
The question posted was: “If you have been invited to appear at Boston Hall to deliver a speech of your own choosing . . . to the most cultured, sophisticated, and educated of Harvard, MIT, and Boston Medical . . . of the City and of the state of Massachusetts . . . what would be your message?”
It Seems to me . . . that there are so very many challenges facing us personally, as well as collectively with our cities, states, and federal government . . . that there would be an endless list of topics on which to speak.
I recall years ago visiting the Fine Arts Museum in Boston one afternoon with a small group from my seminar. As I strolled along with the group, we came upon a rather peculiar painting. The painting was long in length and narrow in width, a panoramic view that showed a large assembly of people standing alongside a river. The folks depicted in the painting were of a variety of colors, cultures, ethnic groups, nations, and time periods as reflected by their attire. There were three questions under the mass of humanity, which asked:
- Who are we?
- Where did we come from? and
- Where are we going?
I believe that those three questions might be a terrific subject for one’s speech to the crowd described to be gathered in Boston Hall.
I will teach Acts 17 this Sunday morning. It is in that chapter we find the Apostle Paul in the city of Athens, Greece. He was obviously there without his missionary team as they had remained behind to continue the work that that been started (but Paul had been sent ahead to protect them from the angry mob). It is believed that Paul had never visited the ancient, historic city prior to his arrival there in Acts 17. I am pretty sure that Paul was like most of us when visiting places we have heard about for much of our lives, and he was excited to go out sight-seeing and experience the city. It is quite likely that he intended to just relax, rest, and wait for the rest of the mission team, but we are told that the Holy Spirit spurred him to action as he made his way around town and encountered all sorts of superstitions and idolatry. Being confronted with all of that foolishness, Paul was compelled to speak out in truth to a culture consumed with foolish philosophical beliefs. Paul’s message was always simple and straight-forward . . .
Man was created by God . . .
The reason? . . . to live in relationship with God . . .
The problem? . . . sin and rebellion placed a barrier in the way . . .
The solution? . . . Jesus Christ . . .
The way? . . . belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
As Paul spoke that message, he gained both the interest and attention of the Philosophers. In that era, folks gathered in public places and listened to the smart guys debate various and sundry issues of life. The Philosophers invited Paul to speak at just such a public gathering. The location was called the Areopagus at Mar’s Hill. As Paul looked about, he discovered a wide assortment of shrines, temples, and pedestals upon which rested pieces of art believed to represent each of the gods the Greeks believed existed. Either tragically or comically, they had an empty pedestal marked as ‘To the unknown God’. Of course, it was their feeble way of trying to cover all bases. Wise fellow he was, Paul jumped right on that and announced that he had come to introduce them to that ‘unknown God’!
Paul’s message and delivery serves as a model for those who seek to witness to others about the Gospel.
It Seems to me . . . that none of us have either the right, nor the reason, to embarrass the Gospel. Sadly, that does occur when folks behave foolishly, and speak foolishly. I occasionally encounter individuals who tell of a person who grossly offended them about things spiritual. Sometimes I am able to help the person understand that a person’s status before God should not be decided by the actions of others. Sometimes, I simply have to leave the person with the question: “Are you willing to let that goofy person’s words or deeds sentence you to hell?”