May 17, 2023 – Acts 17
…they profess allegiance to another king, named Jesus. – Acts 17:7
A few years ago, my family took a trip to Greece. It was the trip of a lifetime! My brother-in-law works for an airline which really helped with our overseas travel!
When our plane touched down in Athens, we quickly began exploring. We immediately noticed the Parthenon, a very large and very old Greek temple. You can’t miss it! Literally, it sits on top of a huge, elevated hillside right smack dab in the middle of the city!
What I found so fascinating as we climbed the stairs to take a closer look at this (again) very old temple, with broken columns and large pieces of stone missing from the structure, was how the Apostle Paul would have seen this very same temple when he arrived in Athens all those years ago! And, it would have been really old back then, too! The original Parthenon was destroyed and then rebuilt nearly 500 years before Paul arrived.
What’s even more amazing was the conversation Paul had while he was there in Athens.
“Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about." – Acts 17:22-23
Notice how Paul didn’t criticize or shame the people of Athens for all their shrines? No, instead he chose to find common ground and said he noticed how they were very religious. He could have just laughed at them, shook his head, and said, go on and keep believing in your (little “g”) gods and I’ll keep believing in the one true God, and then we’ll see who’s right in the end. But instead, he had compassion, he used the opportunity he was given to introduce the people of Athens to Jesus.
I don’t want to give away the ending, but the people of Athens have still never gotten around to fully rebuilding that old temple… but we sure did see a lot of churches with crosses all around the city!
So, the next time you’re in a conversation with someone who might not know God, start by finding common ground, and then introduce them to Jesus.