About 2,000 years ago the apostle Paul stood on Mars Hill or the Areopagus (Ares means Mars) in Athens and preached the gospel to the idolatrous philosophers who gathered often “to tell, or to hear some new thing” (Acts 17:21). As he stood on the hill that day in the clear air at the dawn of the first millennium A.D., Paul would have seen the Acropolis only a few hundred yards away with its glorious temples devoted to the Greek gods and goddesses, chief of whom was Zeus (Jupiter) and Athena (Minerva). The Acropolis would have dazzled any worldly person, with its gleaming white marble and multi-colored stones, its bronze statues and gold ornaments. There was even an altar pathetically inscribed “to the unknown God,” and it was this God that Paul preached that day to a group of august men and women who were highly educated in the ways of this world but completely ignorant of their Creator, men and women well-versed in this world’s literature but who did not know the ABCs of true wisdom. There were three different responses to Paul’s bold preaching, for the good seed of the gospel falls on different types of soil (Luke 8:11-15). Some mocked, rejecting the gospel of the resurrection of Christ as foolishness (verse 32). Some put it off and said they would “hear thee again of this matter” (verse 32). There is no evidence, though, that they ever did; Paul left Athens soon thereafter and never returned, as far as we know, thus reminding us that it is very dangerous to put off the gospel until “later.” The third group, by far the smallest, “clave unto him, and believed” (verse 34). They were born again and gathered into Christ’s “little flock” (Lk. 12:32). Mars Hill is still there, but it is just a barren rocky outcrop. All that is left of the grand temples are pathetic ruins, and many Greeks have traded their ancient idolatry for a heretical Greek Orthodox Christianity. Athens today is not glorious, and Greece is such an impoverished nation that it has to go begging hat-in-hand to the European Community. They should have listened more earnestly to Paul that day!
(Friday Church News Notes, April 6, 2012, www.wayoflife.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-295-4143)
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