“When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, ‘We want to hear you again on this subject.’ At that, Paul left the Council. Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.” Acts 17: 32-34
The apostle Paul was no stranger to criticism. And when it comes to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, some people just aren’t interested. Jesus warned that following Him would not be easy – in fact, we will often face criticism, insult and even persecution (Matthew 5:11) because of our faith. Some of you may have experienced this at work or among friends. Maybe it’s light teasing or public criticism for the way you live your life. Perhaps your views are seen as old fashioned, politically incorrect or irrelevant. How do you respond when others criticize your faith?
When Paul visited Greece, he spent time sharing with the intellectual elite of the day. After sharing the truth of Jesus, he issued a challenge: repent. In other words, Paul was saying to turn from their old ways of living, thinking, and believing and turn towards God.
Well, this challenge didn’t go over so well. It appears that the majority’s response was some serious eye rolling and mocking. However, there was a smaller group that wanted to know more. Even before mentioning the name of Jesus, this particular group was interested to see where this conversation would go. From this group came a much smaller group, those who embraced the truth and became believers.
So was Paul’s mission in Greece a failure? Are we a failure when we face sneers and mocking? Not at all. Paul, the most famous and successful missionary in the history of the Church, was successful because he remembered that we are all searching for something. From society’s elite to its humblest – we will never find true joy, peace, meaning and purpose until we come to trust in the one true God. So what will you do when your faith is criticized? Don’t let fear or rejection keep you silent. Be bold; be like Paul.