One of the characteristics of the people at Athens was that they were always interested in hearing about something new. Luke records this attitude for us in Acts 17:31 where he writes, “For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.”
The nation in which we live today is not unlike those Athenians in that we delight to hear of “new” things. We glue our ears to the radio to listen to the next blurb spoken by the next popular commentator. We sit transfixed in front of the television set each evening at 5:30 to find out what is going on in the world. We can even surf the internet to get our news sooner than 5:30. We desire fresh information – things which we have not heard. The latest football, basketball, baseball or hockey score must be ours. The latest political quip must be on our lips. The latest election results must be broadcast even before all of the polls close. We just can’t wait for the next update, sound bite, news worthy item! And when someone comes to us with a piece of information that is not up to date we say rather oxymoronically, “That’s old news.”
Then, Sunday morning rolls around. “It’s time to go to worship, to do the same old things every week. To listen to the same old message that we have heard time and time again. Everyone’s heard it all of their life. Why should we go and listen once more?” Let’s note a few good reasons why.
First, while the gospel message may be old news, it is still good news! That is sure to be something that you don’t find in the dominant media today, good news. Oh there may be a story or two that is more or less positive in application, but the majority of the news today is going to be centered around death, war, fighting, tumults, disagreements, and political wrangling. While such news may be “fresh” it is certainly not good. The gospel contains THE GOOD NEWS! That’s basically what the word gospel means. It is the basic message that God sent His Son Jesus to this world to die on the cross so that man could have hope to live with God in heaven. That may be old news, but that is always good news! Paul wrote in Romans 10:15b, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” Yes, we, along with Paul should rejoice in the good news of the gospel!
Second, while we may have heard the message before, we need to hear it again. Missing one meal out of a day may not hurt us, but it will weaken us. Such is also true with spiritual food. We need to be feed regularly from God’s word so that we continue to grow stronger in the Lord. Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:12 “Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.” He wanted them to remember the truths of the gospel, even though they knew them and were established in them. Spiritual growth requires spiritual nourishment and if we are not growing, then we are dying. Let’s feast on those good ol’ gospel meals at every opportunity!
Third, while we may have heard the message earlier in our life, we hopefully have grown and the message has new application for us. All Christians are expected to grow in the Lord. Peter writes, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). Unlike the human body, as Christians we constantly grow throughout our lifetime. In each phase of our life, the message of the gospel may be applied so that old truths have fresh significance for us. There is no end to the things that we may learn from the Bible. No one person can ever say that they have mastered the depths of its pages. Each of us has the responsibility to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
We may hear the same truths preached each week that we have heard all our life, but let’s rejoice in God’s good news! Let’s feast upon the bread of life! Let’s grow as we encounter life! God’s truth is timeless; our lives are temporary. Let’s not develop an Athenian Attitude toward the gospel.