Standing Where Paul Preached--Sharing the Story
Yesterday I stood on the Areopagus in the center of Athens, Greece.
Merideth and I stumbled upon the site after visiting the Parthenon and the ruins of other great temples of ancient Athens, which were built on the highest point in the center of the city. When you stand on the ruins of the Areopagus (Also known by the Romans as Mars Hill), those temples loom over your shoulder--you can't miss them.
The Areopagus is the site where the Apostle Paul addressed some of the leading intellectuals of the city, using Athenian cultural references and their own curiosity about religion and new ideas to preach the Gospel to them.
The Apostle Paul was astounded at the number of gods that were being worshipped in Athens, and he began sharing his "new ideas" with a twist:
So Paul took his stand in the open space at the Areopagus and laid it out for them. “It is plain to see that you Athenians take your religion seriously. When I arrived here the other day, I was fascinated with all the shrines I came across. And then I found one inscribed, to the god nobody knows. I’m here to introduce you to this God so you can worship intelligently, know who you’re dealing with. (Acts 17:22-23)I can imagine that Paul looked over his shoulder at the temples high above him when he was witnessing to the Athenians. Then he referenced one of the great poets of Athens, Aratus and said the following:
[God] doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s near. We live and move in him, can’t get away from him! One of your poets said it well: ‘We’re the God-created.’ Well, if we are the God-created, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to think we could hire a sculptor to chisel a god out of stone for us, does it?While we were standing on the Areopagus we met a woman and her daughter from South Africa. As we began talking, we revealed that we were Christians and she became very excited. She told us she had a "testimony" and then shared with that twelve years ago her husband died--leaving her with two small girls.
She told us how she believed God had "become her husband" and a father to her daughters. Her belief in God and her staunch faith as a Christian had sustained her through some terrible times.
It struck me how incredible it was that nearly 2000 years after the Apostle Paul stood on that very spot, sharing the Good News of how God was redeeming all of Creation through the resurrection of Jesus Christ--our new friend from South Africa was doing the same thing. Paul had no idea of the impact that message would have. He just shared his testimony.
And when he was done sharing, some of the intellectuals scoffed, others told him, "We would hear more of this," but one of those intellectuals became a believer--a man named Dionysus, who would eventually become the bishop of the church in Athens. How amazing is that?
May you share your testimony with boldness and grace. May you tell the story of how God is redeeming all of Creation, but more specifically how God has and continues to redeem you. The culture around us longs for better news, and a bigger story. You have that story. You are that story. Share your story. You never know how God will use it.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.