28 Weeks Acts Devotion Week 17
WEEK 17 - ACTS 17 - December 3, 2018
Written by Rev. Shannon Rodenberg, Pastor, Fairland UMC; chair, OKUMC Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry
As the new chair of the Conference Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry, I have been learning many things that I did not know about our wonderful campus ministries around the state and the work that they do to help college students and staff learn more about their faith and the world that God created and is creating. Our campus ministers help our students from all backgrounds and theological perspectives stretch their minds and learn what the Gospel and how to live into the good news of Jesus Christ, just as we see Paul and Silas and Timothy doing for the people in Thessalonica, Beroea, and Athens in Acts 17.
In each of those places, Paul and Silas and Timothy encountered those who were hungry for learning about the Messiah and those who sought to banish them for their teaching. Paul and Silas were banished from the synagogue for “turning the world upside down” and were chased by a mob of “ruffians” in Thessalonica for their teaching. How wonderful a description for what the knowledge of Jesus Christ does! It does, indeed, turn the world upside down! Paul and Silas then traveled to Beroea, and began teaching in the synagogue there, where they found those who were hungering to learn more and to intently study the scriptures. This time, when the crowds were stirred up, Paul was hustled away to Athens, leaving Silas and Timothy behind.
When Paul got to Athens, he was incredibly taken by the fact that Athens was a city full of idols, including an idol to an unknown God. The Athenians wanted to believe in something or someone, but they did not always know in what or whom to believe, which sounds reminiscent of those today who pray but do not know to whom they are praying. As he argued in the synagogue and the marketplace, Paul was regarded as a “babbler” and a “proclaimer of foreign divinities.” As a result of these babblings, he was given a chance to stand up at the Areopagus and teach. There, he found a crowd of people who “would spend their time in nothing but telling or hearing something new.” At this point Paul gave one of the clearest explanations of our faith in verses 22-31. Some of those who heard this message found the courage to repent and believe.
That Greek word for repent in verse 30, metanoia, has the connotation of changing one’s heart and mind. That is what learning does to us. Learning about Jesus Christ and continuing to dive deeper into the scriptures and experiences of the world and traditions of the Church should change our hearts and minds, not just the first time we learn about Christ, but each and every day as new things are revealed to us. We are never finished with the hard work of learning, and God certainly is not done with us or with the Church. We all have more to learn about being disciples of Jesus Christ.
Suggested reading schedule
• Monday - Acts 17:1-9
• Tuesday - Acts 17:10-15
• Wednesday - Acts 17:16-21
• Thursday - Acts 17:22-28
• Friday - Acts 17:29-31
• Saturday - Acts 17:32-34
• Sunday - Acts 17
Reflection question: What is God continuing to help you learn about following Jesus Christ as his disciple, and how is the Holy Spirit helping you convert that knowledge and discipleship into action that will “turn the world upside down?”
Prayer focus: students, teachers, professors, staff, and campus ministers as they prepare to end the fall semester
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