Oct 6 2009

Where Are You ‘Gossiping the Gospel’?


I’m standing in front of the Parthenon on the Acropolis in the center of Athens.  When Paul arrived in Athens (Acts 17) the Parthenon had already b072een standing for around 500 years!  Paul did three things when he came to Athens: he saw, he felt, and he acted.

First he saw.  He walked around and checked out all the many temples and statues and altars and idols.  It was said in Athens that there were “more gods than men.” But he didn’t just see art, he saw idolatry.  He saw confusion.  He saw people who were very religious, but misguided. He looked; he studied the culture.

After he saw what he saw, he felt. “While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.” (Acts 17:16) The word Greek word for “greatly distressed” was used in medical journals for a violent seizure. The word represents strong emotion.  Paul was not nonchalant about what he saw.  He was extremely moved in his spirit.  As a result he couldn’t just do nothing.

So he acted.  He spoke up and got engaged in trying to share the gospel in two different locations: 1) in the synagogue; and 2) in the market-place (Acts 17:17).  The market place (Greek: agora) in Greek and Roman cities was not just a food market.  It was a major gathering place in the center of the city, not only for trade, but for social and philosophical interchange as well as a place where the legal courts were held.  The synagogue was like the church—a place where mostly the already convinced gathered, along with occasional seekers.  Paul didn’t just stay there.

If we are going to reach people with the gospel, we are going to have to take the good news beyond the church to the agora, to the market place!

John Stott writes:

The equivalent of the agora will vary in different parts of the world.  It may be a park, city square or street corner, a shopping mall or market-place, a “pub”, neighborhood bar, café, [coffee shop] or student cafeteria, wherever people meet when they are at leisure… there is a need for [people]… to gossip the gospel in such informal settings as these. (The Message of Acts, 281)

If we are going to make a difference for Christ in the world, we need to ask His Spirit into our lives so that we can see as He sees, feel has He feels, and than act as He would have us act, find ways to get the good news beyond the church and out into the agora, to “gossip the gospel” in the market-place!