The speech of Paul in chapter 17 of the Act of the Apostles that appears in today’s lectionary readings is a pivotal moment in his ministry. If read aloud, one can hear the power and conviction of belief in Paul’s words and imagine how the the Greeks of Athens must have been moved by him. He was not giving them a lecture about his personal belief to inform them. Rather he was telling them what they had been missing in their lives and how this God was the one they were looking for, even if unknowingly. Most likely Paul had no written text but spoke from his heart, no microphone but rather just his passion for Christ to strengthen his message. And even now twenty centuries later people like me are moved by his words and his delivery. Imagining I am speaking to a crowd of people who are seeking some deep and meaningful reason for what is unknown yet calling them in a deep way – a more personal God to believe in, I put my heart totally in the words below as I speak out my faith.
You Athenians, I see that in every respect you are very religious. For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed “To an Unknown God.” What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you! The God who made the world and all that it in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, nor is served by human hands because of needing anything. Rather it is this God who gives to everyone life and breath and everything…so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope and find God, though indeed this God is not far from any one of us, for it is in this God that we live and move and have our being.
Can you hear it? Can you feel it? Would you be able to move anyone to desire to know more from you about your belief? How strong is your faith after all?