Boredom is a vacuous space that will not remain empty. In its quest for fulfilment, it will draw unto itself anything that might satisfy it.
First-century Athens was a magnet for the curious. Luke says, “Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new” (Acts 17:21).
Paul was on his own in Athens (Acts 17). The sight of all the pagan idols vexed his soul and propelled him into action (Acts 17:16f). When he preached Jesus, their reactions were mixed. Some considered him a babbler, others thought he was launching a new brand of deity, others wanted to hear more, and a few were converted.
Paul was a man of letters. In his former life he would have revelled in the thought of debating those who might think him intellectually inferior. However, now as a new man with an equally new message he was not there to entertain the bored but to convict hearts.
Formerly, as a Pharisee, his message was a barrier: Righteousness was only found in The Law of Moses and the Traditions of the Fathers. But now, as a Christian, his message was an invitation: “God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”” (Acts 17:30-31).
If they had only considered Paul “a babbler” up to this point, then the mention of a ‘dead man rising’ would have lowered their view of him even further.
We take it for granted that Paul was a strong and courageous evangelist. But his strength and courage carried none of today’s bravado; it was founded in the compassion of Christ.
Paul would not have walked away thinking, “Now that they have rejected the Gospel, I can wash my hands of these pagans.” Instead, he would have been lamenting their ignorance and praying that seeds had been sown in their hearts.
Such is true evangelism.