From the first week on we noted that justice and kindness are inexorably linked throughout the Scriptures. Indeed, to understand that having “a good eye” means looking beyond yourself and your own desires and fixing on the needs of others alters our view of our purpose in life. To understand that having a “simple heart” means a reduction in the conflicting passions of your heart.
As we have seen throughout our study, “righteousness” in the Scriptures is often far less about individual morality and much more about reaching out to the poor and needy. Remember the quartet of the needy throughout the Scriptures – the poor, the orphan, the widow, and the stranger? It is truly our kind engagement with them that determines our apprehension of what the Holy Spirit is leading.
There is so much more that we could have highlighted in our study. I’d recommend the following books to anyone wishing to dig even more deeply: Generous Justice, Tattoos on the Heart, Same Kind of Different As Me, The Ragamuffin Gospel, The Excellency of Christ (Jonathan Edwards), etc. But we’re not entirely finished with our study! This Sunday we will be in Athens in Acts 17:16-34 where Paul stands in the Areopagus and speaks of the unknown god.
Here in this text we will see Paul confronting idols, and it is our idols that stand behind our sins of omission and commission. It’s the idols that are the “sin under the sin” of which Martin Luther spoke. It is the twin idols of performance and approval that render so many of our attitudes and actions sinful and ineffectual. But Jesus can change all of that. The Holy Spirit can unmask the idols of our lives and bring us the courage we need to live reordered, free lives.
In preparation for Sunday and communion, you may wish to consider the following:
1. How would you define “repentance”?
2. What does it mean to say that the cycle by which Christians grow is moving from repentance to faith?
3. What is the marketplace like? (verse 17)
4. What is it that “provokes” Paul’s spirit? (verse 16)
5. Why would he go into the marketplace?
6. What is the Areopagus? (verse 19)
7. What did Paul see in verse 22?
8. What did he do when he saw them?
9. What does Paul’s example teach us about our doing of justice and loving of kindness?
10. How is the finished work of Jesus Christ the antidote to the domination of idols?