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Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. 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. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him — though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said,
‘For we too are his offspring.’
Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
Goals and Objectives
When I was in graduate school, I was hired to write a collection of exercises for a class in business communication. And while I was working on this project, I learned that a good lesson plan starts with a list of clear and attainable goals and objections. And when you think about it, that just makes sense. Effective teachers have some purpose in mind whenever they plan out a lesson. Now that’s something that I learned. And I’ve applied it as a teacher and a preacher with both lessons and sermons. And even though I don’t always achieve my goals and objectives, at least I have a pretty good idea about my destination before I start my journey.
And I think we can see Paul do the same kind of thing when he shared the Gospel to the philosophers in Athens, something we’re not very good at doing when we witness. I mean, I think Paul knew exactly what he wanted to see happen. He wanted those Athenians to listen to his message. And to encourage them to do that, he knew that he couldn’t just condemn them or talk to them like they were stupid. Rather, he needed to encourage them to listen, something he did by, first, praising their religious dedication and, second, by quoting one of their poets. And then, with an audience that was relaxed and open, he explained who the unknown god actually was. Paul did what was necessary to reach his goal.
And so should we. Instead of being obnoxious and judgmental about the faith we share, maybe we need connect with those to whom we share Christ. And after helping them feel comfortable enough to be open, then we can move toward our goals and objectives.