Yesterday we saw that as Paul wandered around Athens, his spirit was greatly troubled to see men and women blasted by this prostitution of their human powers through the worship of false gods.
This isn’t that peculiar because the more intimate our relationship with the Father grows, and the more sensitive we become to His will and mind, the more we see the “sinfulness of sin;” the more sensitive we become to how much our Lord is grieved by the sins of men.
I John 5:20 says, “. . . He has given us ‘understanding’ so that we may know him who is true.” The understanding John refers to is the same as the Old Testament’s “fear of the Lord.” In other words, this is referring to an intuitive knowledge of God’s will—God’s heart—springing out of a close fellowship with God Himself. This is the natural outgrowth of an intimate relationship, a sharing of heart-with-heart.
In the Song of Solomon, as the maiden is drawn into the King’s chambers, she cries out, “Do not stare at me because I am dark.” She was referring to the sinfulness that is glaringly exposed by the Holiness and bright, blinding light of the King. Isaiah cried, “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips . . . for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” John the Beloved “fell at his feet as though dead” when he saw the resurrected Lord.
Oh I pray that all servants of the Lord could receive this “understanding.” My friends, the more intimate your relationship becomes, the more you develop a godly awe of our Lord and see the depravity of the “natural man.” You will weep as you watch men live their lives in the power of their sin. Even the most minute sin will grieve your heart; it will cause you to cry out for forgiveness and righteousness in your own life, and cry out for the deliverance of those around us. How often do you weep when you see the lost? Do you, as Steve Camp sings, taste the salt in their tears?
Imagine standing on the shore of a stormy, blustering sea. Out in the water you see someone struggling to survive the tumultuous seas, wrestling for air as they are continually dragged underwater. Are you wiling to dive in and rescue them? Or are you going to remain on the shore thinking and singing and praying about the poor perishing soul? Are you willing to lay aside your shame, your pride, your cares about other people’s opinions, your love of comfort and a life of ease, and all the selfish loves that have kept you back for so long, and rush to the rescue of the multitudes of dying men and women?
Don’t wait for the grand “evangelistic meetings.” Don’t pray for Franklin Graham or Joyce Meyers to come to town to save the lost. Don’t invite people to your “special” meetings at church. As Evangelist Paul Radar once said, “There’s nothing in the Bible that tells the world to come to the Church; but, there is everything in the Bible that tells the Church to go to the world!” Follow Paul’s example. He “wandered around in the marketplace, sharing with anyone he happened to meet.”
Let me ask you: why are Christians willing to follow Jesus, even if it means suffering? Now I can’t speak for every believer, but most for most of us, Jesus has changed our minds about many things in which we held firm opinions. But now that we are walking with Jesus we can no longer tolerate the foolishness and futility that is passed out as wisdom in our modern culture. Christians are tired of the “enlightenment” of this age which is blindly ignorant of its intellectual slavery to materialism and its contradictory obligation to ethical relativism. Christians are tired of seeing people’s lives wasted and unfulfilled because of their submission to the established world order.
This is what Paul was feeling as he walked around Athens. He saw the cloud of idolatry that hung over the city, and blotted out the truth and light of Yehoveh’s Messiah. It plunges people into the darkness of their superstitions and idolatry. How about you? Are you moved by how our culture seems to worship confused Celebrities? Are you saddened when you see how our culture idolizes Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan and others like them? Are you shocked and saddened by the “new” image being promoted of the mere teenager, Hannah Montana? Some of us are disgusted—but we still cry for more information to tickle our fantasies.
Paul saw this same condition in Athens, so he began to preach. He couldn’t help it. He knew that the only message that could help people in this state was delivering the message of Jesus.
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Book of Acts: http://home.comcast.net/~nickolas.hiemstra/acts.pdf