Paul stood alone.
Deep in the center of the Athenian Agora.
Oblivious, it seemed, to the bustling crowd,
and boisterous conversations.
Lips formed his words,
yet he uttered no sound.
Stunned by the
sights and sounds
of sinful ignorance.
He stretched out his arms.
Slowly turned full circle.
Intelligent eyes taking his surroundings.
Everywhere he looked,
Every direction he faced,
Testimony to human confusion and idolatry.
Idol after idol.
Gods of the people who worshipped…
Music and healing.
War and chaos.
Fertility and harvest.
Wine and pleasure.
Gods and goddesses of…
Women and empires.
Harmony and peace.
Revenge and hatred.
Jealousy and rivalry.
He threaded his way through the crowd.
Listened to the debates and arguments
of Athens’ fabled philosophers.
Fumbling with matters of man’s
For several days
Paul walked the marketplace.
Engaged at times in quiet
and lively debate with
Epicurean and Stoic philosophers.
Paul parried their intellectual thrusts.
Countered with his personal beliefs.
Sought to understand the…
Their “eat, drink and be merry” constructs
that ignored their personal responsibilities.
Sought to know the…
Their deliberate disdain for life and
unending and unjoyful quest for life on a higher plain.
Paul’s introduction of a loving God,
a resurrected Lord,
fell upon curious, but deaf ears.
Despite their general apathy,
the philosophers lived for and loved a good debate.
Liked nothing more than to spend
time talking and listening to the latest ideas.
Invited Paul to voice his strange philosophy to the Areopagus,
The council of the most learned in Athens.
On a hill in the shadow of the Acropolis.
Paul walked the remainder of the day
considering the challenge before him.
Constantly in prayer for words to share.
How could he convince them of the God he adored?
The God he worshipped?
Focused only on his thoughts.
Paul’s elbow caught the edge of another stone monument,
forcing his attention to his right.
As he rubbed his arm to soothe the discomfort,
he stood face to face with
He looked at the whitewashed image.
Carved from stone.
The half-nude body of a man.
Poised and powerful.
Cloth draped across its left shoulder,
tied around its waist.
Face framed by a laurel wreath.
Void of expression.
Paul’s eyes drifted down to the inscription.
Chuckled at the irony.
Marveled at God’s inspiration.
Chiseled into the base of the statue…
“TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.”
Offering a quiet prayer to Jehovah.
Paul hurried back to his home for the night.
Gathering his thoughts.
Early the next morning,
Paul sat quietly on the boulder.
The rising sun casting a reddish glow onto the low clouds.
The philosophers arrived alone and in small groups.
Eager to begin another day
searching for understanding and knowledge.
Their sole reason for breathing.
After a time,
One of the men whom Paul debated yesterday,
held out his hands.
Gathering the attention and eyes of every man.
With an air of derision and scorn,
he pointed at Paul.
“This stranger among us comes at my invitation.
His babblings in the Agora amused me.
While I find his philosophy little more than the chirping of a bird, others…”
he paused, glaring intently at a group of
more open-minded men sitting to his left…
“others, found his argument a ‘herald of some new divination.’
So, my friend,” said the philosopher,
“tell us about this new thought you bring for it is strange to us.”
Paul stood slowly.
Walked toward the edge of the mountain
Looked down on the Agora.
The streets below.
Stretched out his arm over the city beneath him.
Stared down at the Altar of Apollo,
clearly visible in the distant marketplace.
Laced with authority.
“Men of Athens.”
“I see that in every way you are very religious.
For as I walked around.
Looked carefully at your objects of worship.
I saw many altars to many gods.
I even found an altar with this inscription,
‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’”
Faced the philosophers seated around the Areopagus.
A smile on his face.
A gleam in his eye.
“What you worship as something unknown…
I am going to proclaim to you.”
With an eloquence of speech
And the voice emboldened by the Holy Spirit,
Paul proclaimed the good news of Jesus Christ
and his resurrection.
Paul preached the
plan and purpose of God
Summarized in seven short verses
in Acts 17:24-31.
God gives life.
A life of purpose given so…
man could seek him.
Reach out for him.
Not distant on the mythical mountaintop.
Not hidden in the clouds of Olympus.
Not crafted by human hands.
Not an image reflecting our failures and weaknesses.
Rather, we find him
in the warmth of personal relationship.
We belong to him.
He is unique.
He calls us to repentance.
Demands our obedience.
Desires our worship.
Paul looked at the world around him
Made a simple observation.
“I see that in every way you are very religious.”
If he stood on the hill overlooking
How many altars could he count dedicated to the
Gods of our own choosing?
How many gods have I created in my image?
How many things have I placed in priority
over my Lord?
Goes through the motions.
Plays for appearance.
Creates a false sense of belonging.
Faith focuses our lives, not on what is
unknown or unreal,
but on the
One and Only
that is known to us…
Restorer of Life Abundant.
Source: The Searcher