Paul was certainly waxing poetic to the people of Athens in today’s text, my favorite from the Acts of the Apostles (17:15, 22-18:1). He actually sounds like the psalmist, proclaiming that the God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth…gives to everyone life and breath and everything. This God, Paul says, fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions, so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for and find God, though indeed God is not far from any one of us. In God we live and move and have our being.
Paul’s ability to draw the Athenians’ attention was masterful, as he speaks of their religious nature that he noticed while walking around the city, especially in an inscription in an altar that read, To an Unknown God. Thus, after his inspired speech quoted above, Paul concludes by referencing their own poets who said, “For we too are his offspring.”
This God of whom Paul speaks, the Creator of all that we know, is not limited to any religion. Although we interpret Paul’s words through the lens of our own tradition, there is no defining feature that limits God in such a way. All spiritual people seek and find God in different circumstances, in inner and/or outer experiences, in our own time and place. At this moment we would do well to see the truth that God is not my personal possession – or anyone’s – and that we must allow others their image and relationship with God in the way that we hope others will reverence ours. Reflecting on the fact that we are all the “offspring” of God ought to bring us to the realization that we are all brothers and sisters in this broad and beautiful universe. And that is a good thing to know.