Acts 17:22a-23 – Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, "Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, 'To an unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you." (NRSV)
I walk the long road in the heat of the day from the Stalling (boat landing) to the Vreed en Hoop Presbyterian Manse that I call home. It is an amazing journey through temples, shrines, mosques, tabernacles, churches, meeting halls, and sanctuaries representing a variety of Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Bahai, and other religious expressions. I feel the Apostle Paul walking beside me, just as amazed as I am, at the plethora of religious worship, and the diversity in the human experience of God.
In Athens, Paul didn't waste time analyzing the validity of religious experience and expression embodied in all that he saw, but took hold of what he could understand. On his walk down the long road he was confronted with the altar "to an unknown god". He used the people's hunger and thirst to know the divine as an opportunity to share the good news of the Creator God, climaxing with the experience of knowing the resurrected Christ.
Maybe all we can do today is introduce someone to the God made known in Jesus Christ. Yes, there is real opportunity for great and worthwhile work!
Prayer: Known and knowable God, help us walk through the religious expressions and experiences of your people around us with respect and care. Help us to be ready, at any moment, with a word proclaiming the risen Christ as Lord and Saviour of the world, to the glory and praise of his holy name. Amen.