Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new. (Acts 17:16-21)
One way of looking at social media today is as if it were an enormous digital Areopagus. What are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all the rest if not a means of “spending time in nothing except telling or hearing something new”? Here’s a question worth thinking about: what difference can I make for Jesus and the good of others as I interact in this chaotic Areopagus?
Our digital feeds will be full of idols today. Will our spirits even notice? We will cross electronic paths with devout persons who do not know Jesus. How will we conduct ourselves? The iMarketplace will be full of people “who happen to be there” because they spend hours in front of backlit screens every single day. Will we ever reveal ourselves as modern disciples of Christ?
In the eyes of some, if we post, share, and comment as unashamed followers of Jesus, we will be regarded as “babblers.” To others, believers in “strange things.” Will we continue to humbly speak the truth in love?
Paul saw the Areopagus as an opportunity to point others to the unknown God who desires to be known. His message in Acts 17:22-31 isn’t hard to understand. This God is the Maker of the world. The Lord of heaven and earth. The Giver of life. The Determiner of time and boundaries. Whether we worship him or not, we are all accountable to him. He is commanding us to turn from the sin which dishonors him. He is telling us ahead of time about the day when we will all be judged. He has revealed his appointed Messenger, Judge, and Savior. He has given us assurance by raising this appointed man from the dead.
Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them. (Acts 17:32-34)
A limitless digital Areopagus is at our fingertips today. Facebook asks, “What’s on your mind?” Twitter asks, “What’s happening?” Instagram asks, “What’s next?” We know how Paul used his opportunity in Athens. How will we use ours today?
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 5:13-16)