In Athens, Paul spoke out of his distress at the sight of a city of idols. He decided to reason with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks in the synagogue and even in the market places concerning this matter. A lot can be learnt from Paul through his communication with the Athenians who were hostile and antagonistic. We are sensitized on what we use in evangelism. These may include: voice, eloquence and knowledge.
Shouting loud neither guarantees compensation of the truth nor communicates what is to be driven home. Unfortunately, many of us substitute the Word of God for raised voices, eloquence or unsolicited knowledge when speaking to people of other religions. Athens was the mother of arts and eloquence with philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle as well as leaders like Alexander the Great. Their grasp of knowledge and eloquence, however, did not provide the truth to the Athenians.
You will never lighten any load until you feel the burden in your own soul. When Paul walked through Athens, his spirit was deeply stirred. Jesus walked from city to city preaching as he was moved with compassion to look upon the masses who seemed as sheep without a shepherd.
God did something to Ezekiel to demonstrate something else great. One day, God spoke to him asking him to lie on his left side for 390 days symbolizing 390 years of captivity of Israel. After the 390 days, Ezekiel was to lie down again on his right side for 40 days representing 40 years of captivity of Judah. Ezekiel bore the pain of this message in his heart. God was, in a way, putting the burden of the people on His servant, Ezekiel. We can never reach out to the unreached if we do not feel the burden and empathize with them.
Man is naturally religious (faith). You will be religious no matter where you go in this world. Paul realizes this and informs them that religion can be a conceived and nurtured ignorance. Most Westerners ask if there is God while the Easterners ask which God to believe in. Paul commended the people for their search for the truth.
In some strands of evangelicals, we think that it is necessary to demean somebody of a different worldview. We usually think that unless everything else they hold valuable is done away with, we cannot preach to them. When reaching out to people, be sensitive to what they hold valuable.
By informing the people, Paul makes a classic step in everything. He started from their assumption. He made them open up through this, making it possible to preach the good news after they realized what they believed was not right. According to Paul, Christianity is not a religious perspective; it is God’s self- disclosure through the person of Jesus Christ.
Jesus was the meekest and lowliest of all yet He was not into entertaining evil. Demons flee away from Him. No one has ever been kind like Him to sinners. He was love. He was a servant of all. He loved us to the extent of giving Himself out for crucifixion so that we be redeemed from eternal condemnation. Jesus, out of this love, sends us to reach out to nations and to peoples. We should, therefore, observe effective communication in the delivery of the Gospel for people to come to an understanding of the truth.
By MCCU Associate