“(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 NASB1995
Here we have a fitting description of the men of the world in all times and places. The way of the world is to be caught up with the news. We want to hear something new, and we want to say something new. There seems to be quite a premium placed on a piece of information being new, as though it were somehow more valuable or useful.
Yet I’ve seen in my life as a Christian that it is often a simple “old” truth that I really need to hear. Many times, the Lord has touched my heart and given me the light and strength I need, not by proclaiming some new thing, but by enabling me to receive a foundational truth again, applied to my present situation.
Perhaps that’s why the Lord says, “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls…”
Jeremiah 6:16a NASB1995
Drive the Athenian Mindset from the Church!
The sad thing is, the attitude of the Athenians can creep into our own gatherings as well. Even if we are willing to hear and look for the ancient paths, yet there can be a subtle pressure to want to share something new. We’ve heard the importance of encouragement continuously through the years (Hebrews 3:12-13), but we can think, “I don’t have anything new to say.”
Dear family, what the church needs is brothers and sisters with the courage to declare the ancient paths! To re-emphasize the foundational truths. It is as we remind one another “where the good way is” that we “will find rest for our souls.”
I spoke to a new mother who recently went through a very hard trial. She said she’d regularly awake to several new messages from her church family, reminding her that “God has a perfect plan,” and “He loves your child even more than you do…”
I asked, What did she feel after a couple of weeks of receiving messages like this?
She said, “I started thinking ‘yeah yeah yeah, tell me something I don’t already know…’”
Is that what you expected? That is NOT what she said.
She said, “Every time I opened my phone, I thought, ‘Oh yeah! That’s right! He does have a perfect plan!’”
I praised God when I heard her story, because it renewed in me an appreciation for boldly proclaiming the foundational truths that difficult circumstances are so prone to obscure.
Don’t Get Creative!
It is all too tempting to try to concoct some special exhortation in response to a time of need. Like a chef in some fancy restaurant, cooking up an obscure dish.
Family, what another weary traveler needs is not foie gras, but bread. The passage that speaks of the need of daily encouragement goes on to describe the contents of that encouragement in the next verse: that which enables another to “hold fast the beginning of their assurance firm until the end” (Hebrews 3:14).
It’s not some upper-level, advanced study truth we need on a daily basis, but a reminder of the very first things, the ancient paths. Indeed, the church in Ephesus had many good “advanced” qualities, but they had “forgotten their first love” and were commanded to “do the deeds they did at first.”
Every Member A Minister
May it never be said at NCCF that we have forgotten our first love, and may we continue in the deeds we did at first, because of courageous brothers and sisters who reject the urge to share something new and endure in proclaiming the ancient paths.
This is something that every single born-again disciple can do: give the bread of encouragement to renew a weary traveler. We heard a few weeks ago about the danger facing the one-talent disciple, so to speak, of burying the little they have been given (Matthew 25:24-25).
Here’s something every “one-talent disciple” (which is to say, no one is excluded) can do: Have the courage to say the “obvious” thing. The “simple truth.” The thing which we can be tempted to think, “Surely they already know this…”
Nevermind. Don’t be an Athenian. May the Lord preserve the foundational truths in our midst as we continue to boldly proclaim that which we have heard from the beginning.
God is our perfectly wise and perfectly loving Father in Heaven, and He desires to conform us in every way to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. He does this by the power of the Holy Spirit, Whom He generously pours out upon all who thirst, who come, and who drink. And He is just as willing and eager to meet with us today as He was yesterday.