In Acts 17, we find what is commonly referred to as Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill. The more I read it, the more I am convinced that there is much we stand to learn about engaging our culture in these verses. (On a side note, my daughter recently told me that my posts tend to be rather lengthy, so, I’ll try to keep my observations short and sweet, and present my thoughts on this subject in a series of shorter articles.)
Unfortunately, many Christians today take the Bible’s teaching of separating themselves from the world as an admonition to have nothing to do with those around them who are not followers of Jesus. We hide in our churches, put our kids in “Christian” schools, take our cars to “Christian” mechanics, use only “Christian” plumbers, and try desperately to patronize only Christian businesses. The surrounding culture to us is made up primarily of “Martians” we don’t understand and refuse to relate to. I think we’ve missed the mark here.
In Acts 17, as Paul waited in Athens for the arrival for Silas and Timothy, we find him out and about amongst the “Martians.” Here was a man whose life was had been “separated” for Jesus and the preaching of the gospel, but he wasn’t hiding out. No, Paul interacted with the people, in the synagogues, and in the market place. He looked around, and the Bible tells us that as he saw the utter idolatry of the surrounding culture, he was provoked in his spirit. But this agitation of heart did not cause him to run and hide. He didn’t make banners that read, “God hates all Athenians.” He didn’t call for massive protests against the idolatry of the culture. No, being moved in spirit, he was moved to engage. The Bible tells us he “reasoned everyday with those who happened to be there.”
We’ll look further into these verses, but for now, I just want to encourage you to make yourselves available to those around you. Remember my fellow aliens, while we may no longer be what we consider to be “Martians,” we are called to preach on Mars!