Road Warrior Basics Three: Be Loving (Scripture reading: Acts 17.22-28)
“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” (Acts 17.22-23).
G. K. Chesterton observed that it is often supposed that when people stop believing in God, they believe in nothing but alas, it is worse than that. . . When they stop believing in God, they believe in anything! That’s a huge problem because broken lives and dashed dreams are the legacies of pursuing the false promises of this world. Paul knew this had happened to the Athenian philosophers and idolaters and his heart broke for them because they had been so abused by worldly lies.
That is why he didn’t slam-dunk these arrogant idolaters on Mars Hill but rather lovingly and compassionately revealed to them the God of the Bible by respectfully identifying him with the “Unknown God” of their own culture and experience. “God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring’ (Acts 17.27-28).
1. Lovingly find common ground in life and experience with those still far from God.
Though the Athenians were all wrong about God, Paul didn’t judge or condemn them. Rather, he gently explained their concept of “the unknown God” in Judeo-Christian terms.
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live” (Acts 17:24-26).
2. Humbly relate to the spiritually hungry as just another beggar who has been graciously granted the Bread of Life.
Paul had forever been humbled by the grace of God in his own life. All Christian Road Warriors have received that very same grace of God which profoundly affects our posture in sharing the gospel. We’re not spiritually superior because we know the true God, but spiritually humble and grateful because we’ve been shown the Bread of Life.