We are studying Ancient Greece right now in our homeschool. Yesterday we read Acts 17, where Paul traveled to Athens. When he arrived, his spirit was troubled when he saw that the city was given over to idols. He went into the synagogue and the marketplace to tell people about Jesus, but it says that they called him a babbler and some said he was proclaiming foreign gods to them.
He was the outsider there, coming in and trying to change traditions and customs that were born into them. As we have studied in our history lessons, the Greeks were devout in the worship of their gods. They held festivals and offered sacrifices. Temples were all around them, and their lives centered around the gods and goddesses in which they believed. In fact, the very first Olympics was a festival to honor the god Zeus!
What I love is what Paul did next. In Acts 17:22, Paul was standing in the midst of the Areopagus. This was the council, the court of justice, the leaders of Athens. He addressed them with respect and compliments. He said, “I perceive that in all things you are very religious.”
It was true. They were SO religious. They could not have been more religious. Their spiritual disciplines were very evident. And Paul recognized this. He continued, “For as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.”
From there, Paul told them about the God they did not know.
He never insulted them. He never belittled them or put them down. He never made them feel like they were idiots or the worst sinners in the world. Here they were, worshiping false gods, and Paul showed them respect and treated them with dignity. He then told them about God, who made the world and everything in it.
You with me? I believe he allowed the Holy Spirit guide him, so he came to them in love, and with respect. Now, some mocked him. Some said they wanted to hear more later. And some believed!
In love, Paul did what God asked him to do. That’s all he had to do. It wasn’t up to Paul to make them believe. It was only up to him to obey God by spreading the gospel. Likewise, it is only up to us to spread the truth, but let’s do so with love. Let’s model the example of this courageous missionary who stood before the Greeks, and be respectful and loving and spread the truth, in love.
Those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God will be saved. Isn’t that what it’s all about?