What was she thinking?
She listened to Paul for all of about 15 minutes (if that, although maybe Paul said more that wasn’t recorded here), and she.
And, here she is, now listed in scripture.
Damaris. Acts 17.
I’ve always liked reading Acts 17, but maybe from a different viewpoint than from most other “normal” folks.
I think that the majority of sermons I’ve heard on Acts 17 (ok, so there aren’t a lot that I remember, but still….) and references made to Acts 17 in books (there are much more of those that I do remember) seem to focus on how terrible the folks of Athens were. What horrible idol-worshippers they were. How corrupt, how awful.
And yes, I suppose there is some truth to that. Scripture clearly says that it was a “…city full of idols.” But, why shouldn’t it have been?
We can’t expect people who do not know God–who do not know Jesus–to act like they do. They were looking for God; and that search resulted in multiplicity of gods. Why wouldn’t it, if they did not know the gospel? Why wouldn’t it, if they didn’t even know that there was a gospel–good news–to know?
We know that this was new teaching to them, because of their reaction: ”
Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.”
“We wish to know what these things mean.” Yes. I love that. Me, too. Although, really I knew what the words were, I just didn’t really understand what they meant. But I wanted to know.
I like these Athenians.
So, they took Paul to the Areopagus, which was a sort of cultural “center”–a place of temples and the high court. A fitting location, considering Pauls’ message of the one true God; the one true judge.
And, then….Paul spoke, and his words were solid. I read these words, often. They help remind me—that the creator God is a known God, and that there is nothing that he needs from me, even when I wish there was–even when I wish I could perform check-list tasks for Him, to earn His approval. He gives us life and breath. He allots my days; they are numbered and He alone knows that number.
And, most importantly–He is near:
Facts. Truth. Laid out in a logical sequence. This is this and that is that.
We looked at this passage this week at church, as we started a new study titled “Counter-culture”. I think the study will be good, but–admittedly–I didn’t hear much of what the speaker–David Platt–had to say after I saw this next section in scripture, because when I read Acts 17, I usually stop at verse 31. I’ve never really paid any attention to verses 32-34:
That word “mocked”—whew, I have definitely known that word, in my own response to the idea of a Savior. There is much shame in that.
But then, much later, I have known the “others” response–the one that says “Ok. I’m going to think about this a bit. I will hear you again about this. I think there may be something to this, and I’m willing to think further on it, to read further on it, to listen further about it, maybe to debate some about it, definitely to question this. I want more information, before I decide if this is truth or not. I want to understand….and then I will make a decision.
Sometimes, I am still that way, with God. “Let me understand this first God. I will hear you out some more on this. Then I will decide if you are __________ (fill in the blank. I have a Doctorate in this approach to God and scripture. And, that’s not necessarily something to be proud of.”
And, then there–at the very end–is Damaris.
Where did she come from?
And, where did she find the–ability? Trust? Faith?–to believe?
Right there. In that moment.
No “Let me argue a bit.” Or, “Let me do some research.” No “Let me think, and I’ll hear you say your piece on the idea that there is one true God again, at another time.” No questions; at least, none that we are made aware of.
Just settled belief. “This is truth, so I will believe it.”
That astounds me.
I want that. I see it in others, even today. People who have such a deep trust of who God is, that it can truly be said that they abide in Him. No unsettledness on who He is. No unwavering that He is Father, that He is near, that He is the shepherd, that He hears and sees and knows and answers,
…..that He is God. And that His grace is sure.
I even–probably sinfully–envy that in others.
I want to be Damaris.
And, the only way I know to keep pursuing that, hard, is by doing the (sometimes) hard work of scripture work and real prayer. Because Romans 10:17 is truth, too: “17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
And, to continue to make the prayer of the father in Mark 9, my daily (sometimes hourly) prayer as well: