Apostle Paul intrigues me. His determination before conversion to do what he believed to be the right thing — get rid of Christians — and his complete reversal afterwards — telling everyone that Jesus is the Messiah, astounds me. He pursued his goal relentlessly with fervor.
His strategies could easily be adapted for sharing the gospel today. His encounter with the people of Athens stands out to me. Paul had been in Thessalonica where he successfully shared the gospel but not without stirring up trouble with some Jews who lived there. He was chased out of town so he went to Athens to wait.
While in Athens, he noticed the idols around town and was deeply troubled by it. He debated with the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers, raising their curiosity about Jesus. They invited Paul to come and speak to them some more about these new ideas. It sounds like he saw an opportunity and took it. But it didn’t produce any fruit. These people just loved to talk about all the latest ideas.
19Then they took him to the high council of the city. “Come and tell us about this new teaching,” they said. 20“You are saying some rather strange things, and we want to know what it’s all about.” 21(It should be explained that all the Athenians as well as the foreigners in Athens seemed to spend all their time discussing the latest ideas.)Acts 17:19-21
Paul left Athens and went to the city of Corinth. It seems to me he changed his strategy after his experience in Athens. Well crafted arguments didn’t produce change so he opted for a different approach.
1When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. 2For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. 3I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. 4And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. 5I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.1 Corinthians 2:1-5
I find in here a strategy I want to perfect. Rather than concern with being clever and persuasive, I want to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit and keep the message simple. This is Paul’s simple message.
Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. 4He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.1 Corinthians 15:3-4
How has your message or approach become complicated and filled with human wisdom rather than the power of God? I am encouraged to keep it simple. What about you?