Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.”
Making Known the Unknown God
Paul was disturbed by what he saw. Everywhere he looked in the city of Athens there were idols, idols, idols. He even found an altar dedicated “To an Unknown God.” Paul’s heart broke to see all these supposedly wise Athenians worshiping gods that weren’t anything at all. How desperately Paul wanted to tell them about the true God!
Paul’s opportunity to do just that came when the philosophers of the Areopagus invited him to speak to them. Although these pagan philosophers knew nothing of the true God, Paul started with something they did know. He started with that altar “To an Unknown God.” He talked about how the true God is not like pagan gods. He’s not confined to a man-made shrine, nor does he depend on human beings for his upkeep. He is rather the God who made all things and upon whom every human being depends. He is the God who wants all people to come to know him. His almighty power and divine wisdom are evident in the world so that people would reach out for him and find him. And he gave the greatest message about himself in one person—a man whom he raised from the dead!
Do you know someone who worships an “unknown god”? You probably won’t find anyone bowing before an actual altar with “To an Unknown God” inscribed on it as Paul did. But likely you know people who do not yet know the true God. They may worship Buddha or Allah or Krishna—or they may say that they worship no god at all. Our hearts break, as Paul’s did, when we see people trying to live without the true God in their lives. But how can we share the true God with them?
We can do as Paul did. We can take the time to get to know them and find out what is important to them. We can genuinely love them and be willing to meet them where they are. And we can unashamedly share with them the faith that God has given us. Like Paul, we can tell them about the true God who loved us so much that he sent his Son to live, die, and rise again for us.
Will those with whom we share the true God always listen? No. In fact, only a few of the people who listened to Paul speak in the Areopagus believed him. The rest thought he was crazy. Not everyone with whom we share the true God will believe. Ultimately, it’s not up to us to bring people to faith any more than it was up to Paul. Creating faith is God’s work, not ours. All God asks us to do is make him known to others. And whenever we do that, our effort is never wasted.
I thank you, Lord, for making yourself known to me. Help me take advantage of the opportunities you give me to make you known to others. Amen.
Source: WELS Devotions