May 28, 2014
Today’s reading: Acts 17:15-18:1
What should we see and feel about the world around us today? Like Paul in Athens, “he grew exasperated at the sight of the city full of idols.” (v.16). Today the idols are everywhere — icons enticing us to money, sex and power. The traditional culture of faith, family and life is being systematically overturned. It is a desperate situation, and we must be roused to righteous indignation.
What then do we do? We must evangelize. We must proclaim the gospel of salvation in Jesus. We must share Christ. Many are ignorant of the good news of Jesus. But in these dire times, as always, God wants us to bring His light into the darkness, and His truth to overcome the enemy’s deception. Now is the time to act with great urgency. “God has overlooked the times of ignorance, but now he demands that all people everywhere repent” (v.30).
What can we expect when we share Christ? There will be varied reactions.
*Some will “scoff” at us (v.32a). They will have no interest at all in the gospel message. They will think we are from another planet, totally detached from how the world is today.
*Some will insult and malign us. As they said of Paul, “What is this scavenger trying to say?” (v.18b). As they realize that the gospel is contrary to their way of life, they will be piqued. They will verbally assault us in return.
*Some will misunderstand us. “He sounds like a promoter of foreign deities.” (v.18c). They will have no clue as to what we are talking about. Even Catholics, when we start talking about the Jesus and about the Bible, may think we are Protestants or of some other sect or cult.
*Some will listen politely and express their desire to learn more, but make no commitment as to when and how. “We should like to hear you on this some other time.” (v.32b).
*Some will be truly interested and will want to hear and learn more. “May we learn what this new teaching is that you speak of? For you bring some strange notions to our ears; we should like to know what these things mean.” (v.19-20).
But there will certainly be others who will accept the gospel message. “But some did join him, and became believers.” (v.34a). What will be our batting average? We don’t know. But even if there would be just one convert, we must try to win that one over. Our part is to proclaim the good news; it is up to God to provide the fruit.
Know this truth. God created everything. He is “the God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth” (v.24a). He created us, and “it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything.” (v.25b). But we are different from the rest of His creation. We have a soul. Thus we long for our Creator. We may not know it. We may be ignorant of who we really are. But the spirit within us longs for God. It is such “that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him” (v.27a). In God is our all. “For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’” (v.28a). Many times it is hearing the gospel that triggers the emergence of this renewed quest for God.
Here is another truth. We are in the end times, and thus the times are urgent. God “has established a day on which he will ‘judge the world with justice’” (v.31a). When the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on earth? The way things are going, there won’t be much faith left. Many souls are going to hell. This is not in accordance with God’s will, who wants all to be saved. We simply need to do our part by proclaiming the gospel.
Indeed God wants all to be saved. That is why “he is not far from any one of us.” (v.27b). God is near, God wants a personal relationship with each one, but God simply waits on people to respond to His love. For many, though God is near, the gap might as well be huge. We then, called to evangelize, are the ones to bridge the gap. We share Christ so that people might meet Christ.
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God bless you.
“For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.” (Phil 1:21)