Road Warrior Basics Two: Be Wise (Scripture readings: Acts 17. 16-17; 21)
“While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. . .A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. . .” (Acts 17. 16-17).
Athens was a city “given over to idols” (16) with a population of 10,000 and over 30,000 idols. It was also the philosophically sophisticated city of the Epicureans and the Stoics who worshipped pleasure and power respectively. The Epicureans said, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” The Stoics said, “Mind over matter.” They believed that if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter, insisting only on self-righteousness and self-discipline as their personal path to power.
“All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas” (Acts 17:21). They did this because their ideas weren’t working. The hedonists discovered that pleasure mocked them through the law of diminishing returns. The legalists found themselves condemned by the very disciplines they touted.
The wise Christian Road Warrior understands that the opponents to our mission (see lesson one) are not unbelieving people, but the idolatry and false philosophies that capture the hearts of all people. We’ll encounter modern day Epicureans and Stoics on the road, and our mission is the same as Paul’s–is to lovingly and gently help people worship the Lord Jesus Christ—Lord of Lords and True Word of the Living God.
1. Make sure to eliminate all idolatry from your own life. James Packer asks, “What other gods could we have besides the Lord? . . . For us there are still the great gods Sex, Shekels, and Stomach (an unholy trinity constituting one god: self), and the other enslaving trio, Pleasure, Possessions, and Position. . . Football, the Firm, and Family are also gods for some. Indeed the list of other gods is endless, for anything that anyone allows to run his life becomes his god and the claimants for this prerogative are legion.” (Your Father Loves You, James Packer).
2. Gently challenge the idolatry in the lives of those you’re trying to reach.
That’s what Paul did. “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone –an image made by man’s design and skill” (Acts 17:29). The wise Christian Road Warrior helps people understand the futility of false philosophies and the mesmerizing captivity of modern-day idolatry.