On the rocky hillside of Mars Hill in Athens is a bronze plaque on which is written, in hard to decipher Greek, the message of Paul to the members of the Areopagus. The Areopagus was the great international university of the day. If one wanted to study with the greatest minds in the world, one would make his way to Athens. There he would be able to join in the pursuit of truth which stands as the goal of all academic efforts even to this day.
A few years ago, I and some others with me had gone to visit Athens. After seeking, alas in vain, to read the Greek on the Hill of the Areopagus and so to figure out what it was saying, a couple of us finally broke down and asked the tour guide what the words on this plaque mean. She told us to take out our Bible and read Acts 17 and to understand that inscribed on the bronze were the words of the Apostle Paul which he had spoken on this spot.
It was on this spot that Paul had addressed the cultured despisers of all the things Paul believed in. He was invited there so that the philosophers of the day could listen for a while to Paul’s, as they called it, “babbling.” What is fascinating to me is that there is a marker that remembers Paul’s words from 2000 years ago. No one who was there that day can be named today except for two people. Paul was one of them. The other was a man named Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, who became a follower of Jesus through Paul’s preaching. Paul is remembered as the man who brought the message of salvation to the city and Dionysius is the one who listened. In Dionysius, the church of Athens took root. Today one of the main thoroughfares of the city is named in his honor.
In the Old Testament there is mention of the setting up of markers that would memorialize an event. For example, the crossing of the Jordan River by Israel as it entered the Promised Land. (Joshua 4) It makes me wonder what sort of monuments I have established so that children, my own or others generations hence, would even ask, ‘What does this mean?” And can I explain to them that, on this spot, God invaded some new territory to claim it as his own? Or what new territory have I been involved in taking for the Lord? So much of what I have done over the years is in the realm of intangibles. How does one show that God has laid claim to this heart and that soul? How does one mark with a monument the preaching that invaded a person’s heart and their business was never the same after that?
Equipping New Leaders to Ascend Mars Hill
At Christian Leaders Institute we are equipping people who will be the invaders of the spiritual kingdom of the evil one. They will be the ones who give evidence of the word of God who “calls all people everywhere to repent.” (from Pauls’ words recorded on that plaque in Athens) A student from a remote area in Australia writes, “God shares each and every day with me, He fills my life with His love. These feelings I have lead me to want to minister for God, to get to know Him better. This beautiful place where I live, has no church, the closest is 25 km away, transport isn’t easy from here either, so I would like to, maybe one day, open a church in my small sea side, country town.” Anna hears God calling the people of her town to repent and she is training to be his spokesperson in her beautiful town of 20,000 people which has no church at all. Yet she knows God is calling all people everywhere to repent. Another of our students from Denver, Colorado in the USA, writes, “My walk with the Lord started at an earlier age between the ages of 10 and 12 even though I really did not understand who he was. It wasn’t until I was incarcerated the last time I really felt a connection with the Lord and He became real to me.” He heard God calling him to repent and to come to faith in Jesus. Now he is in training to “preach, teach the Word of God to family, friends and everyone with whom I make my acquaintance.” He has caught the Holy Spirit as did St. Paul who found that he needed to speak to every group, no matter if they were eager to hear or not. He, too, will leave his memorial of who God is in the lives of those who hear the Word of God through him.
A few years ago, I had the privilege of speaking the word of God to a woman, Yvonne, and her husband, Leroy, and seeing God take hold of them just moments before Yvonne herself went to be with the Lord. Hanging on our living room wall is a gift from Leroy who died a few months later. “So Dad, why do you have that hanging there?” I think my kids know the story of God’s invasive love that laid claim to a woman in last hours of her life. Even if that isn’t remembered by anyone living after I have left the scene and the gift from Leroy that hangs on the wall is discarded as some old junk Dad kept, the Lord remembers and I give thanks for his invasive love every time I see it.