It was a perfect sermon. When Paul speaks at the Areopagus in Acts 17:22-31, the sermon was everything that a preacher could want. Before the lesson, a buzz had been generated (Acts 17:18). He had an educated audience open to new ideas, wanting to hear him speak. (Acts 17:19-21).Even the location gave the lesson a sense of importance.
His presentation had all those things that your speech teacher tells you to add to be effective. A great opening hook (The Unknown God), quotes from people that would respect and admire, great individual lines that would stick in your memory. It paints vividly a picture of a powerful God that created all but is missed by man in his ignorance, a God that has been wanting for mankind to reach out to him, so he can save them from destruction. It closes with a might crescendo, a call to change, and a reason to act. It is simple yet profound, gentle yet challenging, respectful yet demanding. All in all, a perfect sermon for that moment. So you would think that the response would be great for that lesson.
But the response to that lesson is the same to every other lesson.
You see after he is finished, we see three different responses. In Acts 17:32-34, we see that “some began to sneer”. No matter how good the lesson is some people will mock it, point out its flaws and dismiss the message. The truth doesn’t fit into their preconceived ideas, so it will be dismiss with jest.
Other won’t be so quick to dismiss but then again they won’t be quick to obey either. We also read “but others said, "We shall hear you again concerning this." The message did catch their interest, they saw something there but yet they didn’t want to apply it at the moment. Like Felix in Acts 24:25, they see this message applies to them but if they act on it, it will force a change and that change frightens them. Better to put things off and worry about them later. It seems however for most, later never comes. ‘Some later time’ is just another way of saying no.
It is in that third group we see something different. We read “some men joined him and believed,”. The message didn’t just hit their ears it hit their hearts. They responded in faith. They allowed the truth to change them. The sermons became their own. What was taught was acted upon and because so their lives were changed eternally.
Next Sunday as the lesson drawn to close let’s think about our response. Chances are it won’t be a perfect lesson, but our response will be the same. Will dismiss the point, laugh at the imperfections in delivery and never even consider the truth therein? Will we listen and consider but leave the message on the pew to considered on later, if later ever comes? Or will take the sermon to heart, join the challenge put before us and believe the truth we are being taught?
How will we respond?