By Trisha Goddard, Partners for Paraguay
In 2006, Mike and I bought our home here in Paraguay. For years, we dreamed of having an office built, and this year it became reality. I could have easily become frustrated with the way construction is done here because it is nothing like how my professional contractor dad would do it. Instead, I decided to take the opportunity to learn, watch, and value the construction workers by saying “thank you” in tangible ways – providing ice, cold water, or a treat of hot cinnamon rolls, and offering the use of our ladders and extension cords to make their job easier. We made a bathroom and shower available so they could clean up before heading home from a long and dusty work day in 100-degree weather, and we cleaned up the bathroom and job site daily.
In the middle of Acts 17, Paul had been sent to the coast, the city of Athens, by some of the believers of Berea to wait for Silas and Timothy because of trouble being stirred up by the Jews from Thessalonica. He could have become extremely annoyed, frustrated, and troubled as he kept facing opposition and hardships in ministry, saying, “Forget it! This is not for me. I will leave it to someone else.”
Though deeply troubled by the idols he saw (17:16), Paul had a choice – to ignore the idols and not address the people of Athens, or do something about. He decided that it was more pertinent for him to act than to leave the people of Athens ignorant and worshiping idols. Every day, he shared the truth of God’s Word and preached the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.
The philosophers who heard Paul's message pondered what he said, and were interested in knowing more. Because the people of Athens were very religious, Paul took the opportunity to “spring off” something that they already had – an altar to “An Unknown God” – and boldly stated, "This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about” (17:22-23). Then he said:
“He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.
“His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone.
“God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.” (17:24-31 NLT)
You and I have many opportunities to respond as Paul did and make God known to those around us. It might be with your family, your neighbor, your coworkers, or those you interact with at the store or in a government building. For me, it was the construction workers. It honestly would have been much easier to let them come and go and ignore them completely. But I knew that I needed to act. I had to do something different from the cultural norm. When God placed these construction workers in our front yard for three weeks, I took a principle that Bryan Marvel mentioned in a recent sermon on Acts: “Point people to Jesus and let Him do the rest.” And I made it practical. I showed the love of Christ in order to make Him known.
Today, take every opportunity that God brings your way to be the church on mission and make Him known!