Are you intimidated by public speaking? Does speaking to well educated people make you nervous? Are you more comfortable being part of the crowd rather than standing out? Do you think that’s what God wants from you?
If you have never had to speak publicly, it can be intimidating the first few times. If you must present to a group of people, all with doctorates, you may feel as though you are unqualified. Standing out in the crowd, being the only one speaking out against wrong, can be challenging.
I remember in my younger days having to present to a large group of Marines. Though I was a senior enlisted Marine and had been a Drill Instructor, I was still nervous when having to speak to a hundred or more of them. I found two things to be true. First, knowing my material very well gave me some level of confidence. Second, the more I did it, the easier it got. This coming from someone who is an introvert by nature.
When I think of standing out, I think of those commercials where everything is gray and there is one person dressed in bright red. What they don’t show is everyone looking at the one person. Based on my experience, everyone dressed in gray would be ogling the person in red.
Standing out is what God has called us to. We are to be different from the rest of the world. We are called to stand up against injustice, the marginalized, the weak, those in need, and most all for Jesus. It isn’t always easy. We may face ridicule and persecution. We may even face death.
Paul was preaching and teaching about Jesus in Athens. Likely he was with a small group of people who were curious about his message. Suddenly he was carted off to the Areopagus to speak to the well-known philosophers of Athens. This was a place where well-known philosophers from all over the Greco-Roman world would come to debate. Paul was thrust into the limelight.
I’m sure Paul was a bit apprehensive about speaking to them. Yet, he relied on God to provide the message He wanted spoken. As you can see in today’s passage, Paul spoke boldly about God and perhaps offended some of the men in the arena. But he proclaimed God to them anyway. We can take comfort, much as Paul did, that God is with us at all times.
I pray we all speak boldly about God. I pray we rely on God to give us the words He desires us to speak. I pray each one of us follow the example of Paul. Be willing to stand out. Speak out to others about God. Proclaim the good news of Jesus. Know that God is always with you.
Acts 17:22-23 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.