Read: Acts 17:16-34
Have you ever noticed while watching a movie, or reading a book that the movie or the author has told a particular story that reminds you of something that is in the Bible? If you live for very long in our culture, and by now most of us are old to recognize there is an openness to spiritual things. Paul, waiting in Athens for the arrival of Silas and Timothy notices all the religiosity of the Athenians. As a matter of fact we are told that he is bothered by all the idols and when he finally addresses the Athenians, he commends them for the religiosity. One of the idols he noticed he uses as an opportunity to tell this city about Christ. For, as Paul made his way around the town he noticed an altar with an inscription with these words, “to an unknown god.” Paul, used an openness to spiritual matters to bring up the truth about what God has done in Christ. As you can imagine, Paul’s teaching intrigued his hearers. Let me again remind you, that the Roman world was a religious world. They had a deity for just about everything, and there was no clear demarcation like there is today between church and state. As Paul is speaking and telling the Athenians about what God has done through Christ, he even quotes from one of their own poets.
I think there are a couple of things we can learn from Paul’s time in
Athens. First, we must be aware of what is going on in the culture in which we live. We can’t be like ostriches that hide their head in the sand when they are afraid. Yes, we live in a big scary world with a lot of things to be afraid of, but my God is bigger than the world and bigger than my fears and is able to do the impossible. Secondly, if Paul was able to quote from an Athenian poet to relay a spiritual truth then if we look around us at movies, music and books we too can find pieces of truth here and there than can helps us connect with the world around us. Thirdly, Jesus loves human culture. Remember, the incarnation. The truth of the incarnation is that God has descended into our world to become a man. God packaged himself with human flesh, dwelt in real time and a real place, lived according to the Jewish culture and ate Jewish food, listened to Jewish music, read from the Jewish Scriptures. The message of the incarnation is that God is breaking into our world in the person of Jesus Christ, and while we celebrate the incarnation this time of year, let us not forget that is not a one time deal but as the kingdom of God is continuing to grow God is still breaking into our world to reach all people in all cultures with his life changing message.