Are You ‘Greatly Disturbed’?

Posted on July 8, 2022

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By David Ettinger

Truly Disturbing
I understand the connotation of such a question, but I assure you, I mean no offense. I am not questioning your mental health. Rather, I mean this in the best sense possible – the spiritual sense.

My question derives from Acts 17:16: “Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols.”

Though Athens, Greece, was at that time several hundred years removed from its heyday, the city was still a vital and vibrant cultural center which attracted the world’s finest minds. The apostle Paul, however, was not impressed. In fact, he was downright troubled; “his spirit was … provoked.” The Greek word for “provoked” is paroxuno, which means “greatly disturbed.”

Does this mean Paul was offended by the multitude of idols surrounding him? Perhaps, but this was not what was causing him to be “greatly disturbed.” And this which so greatly disturbed him should disturb every follower of the Lord Jesus.

Outward and Inward
Paul likely experienced a “godly jealously” as the intellectually-gifted Athenians foolishly bowed their knees to objects of stone rather than the true God. Such spiritual jealousy is a good thing, and Paul refers to it in 2 Corinthians 11:2.

But Paul’s disturbed state came from something else. It wasn’t the idols themselves which caused his disturbance as no doubt they were fine works of art. Rather, the idols were an outward indication of the Athenians’ inward lostness – their spiritual blindness.

The Parthenon ruins in Athens.

When Paul looked upon the brilliantly-constructed statues, he didn’t see exquisite craftsmanship, but a dying people whose end would be eternal darkness and separation from God. And this, not the idols themselves, was what so “greatly disturbed” Paul.

Being Paul-Like
As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, you and I should emulate Paul’s disturbed spirit.

It is one thing to be offended by how shockingly evil and perverted our culture is, but we should not be overly offended – as if the depravity of the world is nothing more than a personal insult.

In other words, as thousands of people across the world march for abortion rights, yes, we should continue our fight to save innocent lives, but we should also be greatly disturbed – paroxuno – by the pervasive spiritual darkness inhabiting such advocates.

When we see our education system being overrun by wicked agendas which seek to infiltrate our children’s minds with satanic philosophies, yes, we need to fight back, but we also need to be deeply disturbed. We need to be disturbed by the reality that proponents of such wickedness are spiritually perishing.

When we ponder the vileness the entertainment industry is spewing out – how debauched it truly is – it should greatly disturb us that the souls of those producing it are destined for a hellish eternity unless the Lord intervenes.

Abortion adherents, educators, and entertainers are not bowing down to idols of stone, but are genuflecting to the spirit of the age: Satan – the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) – who is gaining ever more control over those who don’t bow the knee to the Lord Jesus.

Be Disturbed
So yes, what is happening around the world is greatly disturbing to Christians, but we should not be overly offended by them. Rather, we are to view our decaying culture as an outward indication of inward lostness – the lostness of souls destined for Hell.

Therefore, in our great disturbance, let us not curse the lost and perishing, but rather let us “have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh” (Jude 22-23).

May God help His people to be deeply disturbed – paroxuno – by the darkness of this world, but to use our disturbance to pray for the lost, that at least some may enter the light of the Lord Jesus!