Thomas is in Philly this week (hence no updated show on Orange Noise this week) but he’s been posting on his trip and made some interesting observations while visiting a Philly mall.
The mall is bigger than you could imagine... its a cathedral to consumerism... in fact it kind of suggested what it would have been like in the Rome of St Paul's time... with all these temples to the various gods of the time... except our gods are Apple, LV, Abercrombie & Fitch, Armani, Bose, Sonystyle etc. Got me thinking.
What gods do you think Paul would talk to you about if he came to your neighborhood today instead of Mars Hill in Acts 17?
Here’s my version of Paul’s sermon if he came to downtown Waxahachie or Dallas today…
The longer Paul waited in Waxahachie for Silas and Timothy, the angrier he got—all those idols! The city was a junkyard of idols.
He discussed it with the Christians and other like-minded people at their meeting place. And every day he went out on the streets and talked with anyone who happened along. He got to know some of the intellectuals pretty well through these conversations. Some of them dismissed him with sarcasm: "What an airhead!" But others, listening to him go on about Jesus and the resurrection, were intrigued: "That's a new slant on the gods. Tell us more."
These people got together and asked him to make a public presentation over at the Civic Center, where things were a little quieter. They said, "This is a new one on us. We've never heard anything quite like it. Where did you come up with this anyway? Explain it so we can understand." Downtown Waxahachie was a great place for gossip. There were always people hanging around, natives and tourists alike, waiting for the latest tidbit on most anything.
So Paul took his stand in the open space at the Civic Center and laid it out for them. "It is plain to see that you Texans in the Bible Belt, take your religion seriously. When I arrived here the other day, I was fascinated with all the shrines I came across. The shrines to consumerism. The shrines to football. The shrines to automobiles. The shrines to electronics, Internet, iPods and even church and religion itself. And then I found one inscribed, to the god nobody knows. I'm here to introduce you to this God so you can worship intelligently, know who you're dealing with.
"The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn't live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn't take care of himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don't make him. Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn't play hide-and-seek with us. He's not remote; he's near. We live and move in him, can't get away from him! One of your poets said it well: 'We're the God-created.' Well, if we are the God-created, it doesn't make a lot of sense to think we could hire a sculptor to chisel a god out of stone for us, does it?
"God overlooks it as long as you don't know any better—but that time is past. The unknown is now known, and he's calling for a radical life-change. He has set a day when the entire human race will be judged and everything set right. And he has already appointed the judge, confirming him before everyone by raising him from the dead."
At the phrase "raising him from the dead," the listeners split: Some laughed at him and walked off making jokes; others said, "Let's do this again. We want to hear more." But that was it for the day, and Paul left. There were still others, it turned out, who were convinced then and there, and stuck with Paul—among them Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris.