Summary: Learning from Paul’s encounter with the citizens of Athens this sermon helps us to see how we can introduce God to the people we interact with in lives
One of the foundational messages of Christianity is around the focus of love.
As we flip through the pages of scripture love is dominant.
God’s love for us, our love for God and our love for others.
Our parish mission statement even reflects this;
Because of God’s amazing grace we live to love the Lord with all our being, to love others as we love ourselves and to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
I suspect that most of wake up in the morning with the intention to love others.
However then it happens.
After hitting the snooze button on our alarm we wake up not 5 minutes later but an hour later.
We now have less than half an hour to get ready for school and work
The children are fighting.
The rains the weather man never expected came down and the clothes we left out over night are damp.
As we drive to school and work, the driver in front of us seems to have all the time in the world driving at 30 kilometres an hour.
On the way to work we see that the price of petrol is up again and someone on the radio mentions that interest rates will be going up again.
At work things are not much better someone has called in sick.
A major customer has gone to the opposition.
We finish work and when we return to the car we discover someone has accidentally scratched our bumper.
Eventually we get home.
And as we walk in the door we see our partner in tears.
But rather than give him or her a nice hug and some consoling words, we are just too warn out and say what’s wrong in a gruffy voice.
We feel too exhausted to show the love we know they need.
Ever had one of those days.
Well in our reading from Acts chapter 17 beginning at verse 22.
Paul find himself in such a situation.
Paul is now on his third missionary trip.
He has been attacked, beaten, gaoled, ignored.
You name it it has happened to Paul.
He has travelled thousand of kilometres.
And now he is in Athens.
And when he arrives in Athens he finds himself amongst people who consider themselves quite intelligent.
And yet they have an aisle full of gods.
Who here goes shopping, ever been down the cereal aisle?
You have choices and choices of cereal.
Now this is what it was like when Paul hit Athens.
There was not just one god, but multiple gods.
Now if Paul acted like some people who call themselves Christians he would have responded probably like this:
“HEY YOU IDIOTS!!!
YOU ARE ALL GOING TO HELL!!
YOU NEED TO FOLLOW THE ONE TRUE GOD!!!
But he didn’t .
And we can learn a lot from him in the way he approached such a situation,
When Paul entered Athens he saw he was amongst people who were quite religious.
And we are in a very similar situation.
To give you an idea of how religious and spiritual Australia is consider the following:
In the last census held in 2006,
just over 18% of the population indicated that they held no religious beliefs.
Now that means around 80% of Australians believe in a higher being, the divine or something beyond themselves.
Also this same census reveals that the fastest growing religion in Australia is Buddhism.
The experts have looked further into this and discovered that around have the increase in Buddhism can be attributed to what is know as pop Buddhism.
This is a situation where people see celebrities like rock stars, sporting identities and other high profile people like the Dalai Lama and because they want to believe in something beyond themselves they adopt Buddhism as their religion even though they know little about it.
Also if you were to go into any book shop selling personal development books,
and open them up
most of them will have a section on spirituality.
Or they will at least talk about having a balanced lifestyle and part of this is tending to your spiritual needs.
And when the Bible Society undertook market research relating to the ‘Jesus all about life campaign’ they discovered that many people thought Jesus was cool, was quite good, his teachings are excellent.
But they felt the church stunk.
Now that doesn’t mean as a church we don’t have a roll.
Our role is to introduce and connect ourselves and others to the teachings of Jesus.
Also many of the people I know are devoted to things in their life.
They have a number of gods.
That is they put their trust in a number of things.
Family, money, career, superannuation, particular political parties.
And yet each of these will let them down from time to time.