[Paul and Barnabas] went on to Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath they entered the synagogue and sat down. After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the synagogue rulers sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have a message of encouragement for the people, please speak.” Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: “Men of Israel and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me! The God of the people of Israel chose our fathers; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt, with mighty power he led them out of that country…therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.” (Acts 13:14–17, 38, NIV 1984).
Because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection…[the men of Athens] took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.” (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.) Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men 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. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you…now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”(Acts 17:18–23, 30-31, NIV 1984).
My Musings – Remember your first introduction to fractions? I’m not talking about the time a parent may have told you to split a candy bar in half and share with your sibling. Then they told you to give your sibling the bigger “half.”.] You were more careful next time, weren’t you? In my case, I have two brothers. Trisecting is a bit more challenging than bisecting. But I digress.
No, I’m talking about your first introduction to fractions at school. Pretty intimidating, right? Until you understood the importance of the common denominator. Any arithmetic operation such as addition or subtraction involving two or more fractions is only possible if the denominators of both fractions are the same. This is known as the common denominator.
Two encounters by Paul. Two very different audiences. Both of which were potentially hostile to the message that he was bringing. Often, when we have such encounters, our tendency is to push back at the expected resistance. What did Paul do? In the first encounter, his audience were Jews and converts to Judaism. So, he started on common ground. The “common denominator.” In this case, a trait or theme that they shared. He began with their common Jewish heritage (trait) and ended with Christ. In the second, encounter his audience were gentiles who worshipped pagan “gods.” One would think, “not much in common there.” But Paul found it. Their religious nature (theme) and “an unknown god,” which ended with the Gospel of Christ.
My Advice – In your encounters, don’t try to add 1/2 and 3/4. You’ll only be frustrated. Look for the common denominator. You’ll find adding 2/4 and 3/4 much easier. You may not always get the result you hoped for (I didn’t score 100% on all my math tests), you’ll find the effort much easier.