Acts 17:16 says that while Paul was waiting for Silas and Timothy in Athens, his spirit was "provoked". "Provoked" comes from a Greek term for sour wine, which the ancients used to describe anger or hostility. This provocative stirring of Paul's soul was due to the multitude of idols that colored ancient Athens - the world's center for pagan philosophy and a bastion of pride for human accomplishment.
For 9 weeks we have prepared ourselves at Cornerstone Fellowship to confront our culture with the Gospel. We have considered how a post-Christain society approaches theology, biology, sociology, psychology, politics, law, philosophy, history, economics, and ethics. This should help us in our effort, but it is not enough.
What happened to Paul must also happen to us. He was "provoked", moved, stirred, and broken by what he saw. The most cultured people in world had a void in their hearts the size of God. Better education, housing, opportunities, and a more "intelligent" understanding of religion had not helped Athens anymore than it has helped us.
But, are God's people "provoked" by what we see? Are we broken to the point that we are willing to confront the darkness with light? Or, has open-mindedness to moral and philosophical relativism become such a virtue within the Church and we no longer espouse absolute truth and the uniqueness of Christ as the only Savior of the world?
Let's prepare our minds in order to present a defense for the hope that is within us but let's pray that our hearts be vexed by the moral and spiritual vacuum that is suffocating our modern-day Athens. Otherwise, the rot will deepen while the Church continues to pride itself for offering validation and acceptance to a world that actually needs repentance and forgiveness.
Pastor Mike Snelgrove