Acts 17:16-17 (NIV)
16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.
Any time you run into idols, your spiritual antennae should perk up…Paul’s did when he arrived in Athens. (By the way, if you own any idols, you need to get rid of them. One of our life groups actually had an idol-smashing party last night at church!)
I love what Luke says here: Paul reasoned with those who would listen. This Greek word is the word from which we get “dialogue” and literally means to “speak across”…as in two sides going back and forth, discussing.
One of God’s greatest gifts to humans – and part of His image in us – is the ability to think and reason. Unfortunately, like most gifts God gives us, we messed it up. In the Enlightenment (also known as the “Age of Reason”) we almost deified reason and dismissed the supernatural.
But human history is often like a pendulum swinging from one extreme to another. The church, wanting to counteract Enlightenment thought would eventually lean toward dismissing reason and making Christianity purely spiritual/mystical.
Neither of these extremes is of God…which is why God gave us Paul. In one chapter he’s walking in the miraculous, and in the next chapter he’s out-thinking his opponents. The other Sunday I said that we need to have depth in our spiritual lives – depth in the Word and depth in the Spirit. We need both faith and reason, because God uses both in our lives.
Of course, reason alone cannot explain God – we’re ultimately saved by grace through faith. But faith is not devoid of reason, nor is it exclusive of reason. They travel together. Faith is necessary…but alone it wins no converts. So God’s given us both.
Isaiah 1:18 (NIV)
18 “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.
Let’s grow in a reasonable faith…