“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.” Acts 17:23 (NRSV)
it is not so startling then that in Paul’s walking around Athens that he found it was a city full of idols. You may remember at some point reading or hearing about Greek gods and goddesses. There were 12, or 14 depending on the source, major gods and goddesses, plus a long list of lesser deities. The Greeks were so observant that they wanted to make sure all there bases were covered, they even had an altar to the “unknown god.” In major league baseball lingo, this would be the equivalent of “player to be named later.”
After complimenting them about their religiosity, Paul goes on to tell them about the “unknown god”, which is really THE ONE GOD. The God who made heaven and earth cannot be contained in a manmade shrine, nor can a man make God. Quite the opposite, God does the making. He made all of creation, creating man in his image and he fills us with his spirit.
Paul closes his address by telling them that God forgave them because previously they were ignorant of God, but now they had the knowledge of the formerly unknown god, they had no more excuses. In hearing they were to repent and turn away from all other gods and follow the true God. The response Paul received was that some rejected his message, others wanted to talk more, and yet others believed and became followers.
From today’s scripture, we should take encouragement in sharing our faith with others. There still many people today who have not heard the “good news” of Jesus Christ. To them, he is still the unknown God. We should also not be discouraged in our evangelism. Like Paul we will find some will reject the good news; others may want to discuss more -- this is good they are interested; yet others may accept.
God, we thank you that you are known to us. Help us to share the good news of Jesus Christ with others. Amen.