By Marco Jericho
Acts 17:16-32 tells us of a guy called Paul. Paul wrote a good chunk of the New Testament. He was the most recognized travelling speaker of the Gospel at that time. He was the modern day Lebron James (he got a lot of people to become fans of the game). Paul was the same; he came to this city in Greece, full of beaches, souvlaki, and idols! Imagine stepping foot in the city you have been dreaming of and it is filled with things that don’t agree with your beliefs. The word tells us Paul was disturbed by what he saw; he got angry also.
Fast forward to today, you’re stepping into a virtual world called Facebook. Some posts are going to get you liking it, and some posts will get you angry, because it goes against what you believe. How are the two things connected? There’s a lot we can learn from Paul’s time in Thessalonica that we can apply today when we log in to social media.
Scripture tells us that Paul (v. 17) spoke to like-minded people about how angry he was with the idols. He spoke to other believers about what was up with all these statues in the city. HE DIDN’T speak to unbelievers about how wrong it was and how idols disturbed him. Paul spent time forming relationships (v.18) and presenting JESUS. Not his opinions or what disturbed him. Paul’s investment in relationships led him to a bigger platform to spread the gospel. Don’t spend more time creating a platform of what your opinions are and what disturbs you rather than presenting Jesus.
Paul could have been caught in the social media trend and create a hashtag: #nomoreidols. He could have generated a buzz, but that would have not gotten people to Jesus. It would have not encouraged relationships to be formed. So ask yourself on the next share, does a video about Jesus hating red cups spread the gospel? Or does a video about how God’s love and grace bring people to Him? Discern what you share, as the world nowadays will probably perceive your opinions and likes as if you were the spokesperson for what Christians are.
Since the time of the early church, people have believed some things are not of God, let them believe it. It is not our job to convince or argue with people what supernatural works God does, or what is prophetic or not. Our job is to love on them and look for what unites us, not divides us. Jesus said if they’re not against you, they’re for you (Mark 9:40). Verse 18 says some people thought Paul was just a babbler and an airhead. The Scriptures doesn’t say Paul rebuked them or argued with them, or told them one day they’ll be in a dark place. He just didn’t bother to reply to them, he spent time on those who were undecided still.
There was a famous hashtag encouraging prayers for Paris, then came others saying we should pray for other countries in need. Scroll down your feed, and it seems what started out as a good cause, turned into an argument. Don’t get caught in confusion. They’ll always be that one disciple who says we should be doing this instead, thinking they have it all figured out and know what God is more concerned about (Matthew 26:9). Don’t get caught in the confusion, learn to withdraw yourself from it. If Paul would have gotten caught in the confusion, he would have missed those asking the honest questions (v.19-21).
Paul got invited to a platform filled with things he hated. Yet, he took the time to use the very same idols he hated to present the gospel in a way the Greeks would understand. Paul was able to set aside his opinions, because bringing people to a life encounter with Jesus, mattered more. Are you able to put your opinions aside? You will have several friends on Facebook who probably don’t know anything about who Jesus is. But will know what food you like, what you agree or disagree with, and your arguments. Be accountable for what you post and share, the world is watching. The Greeks were watching Paul for some time, and because he didn’t spend time arguing and sharing his opinions, he invested in relationships and sharing Jesus.
Are you steering your social media account to open doors to a bigger platform to reach people for Jesus?