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September 4, 2022
Today’s reading: Acts 17:22-27
Finding a common ground
We read in Acts 17:22-27:
22 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:
TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.
Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.
When it comes to preaching the Gospel to unbelievers, one of the most important things we must do is to find a common ground. Paul was an effective preacher both to the Jews and gentiles because he knew how to connect with them.
In the address of Paul to the Athenians, he didn’t start with the Scripture. This was his strategy with the Jews, but not to the people who barely knew about the true God.
Thus, he first talked about how religious the Athenians were and how they worshiped even gods unknown to them. From there, Paul talked about the true God who they didn’t know.
He introduced God to them as the Creator of everything. Paul taught them how God can’t be worshiped with men’s hands.
I can just imagine how Paul marveled at the most beautiful sculptures and statues found in Athens. As one of the most important cities and cultural and artistic centers of the world at that time, Paul might have found some of the most intricate works of art. However, what struck Paul most was how the Athenians were given into paganism and idols.
Paul was saying that no amount of beautiful sculptures could ever be enough to truly and properly worship God.
Paul established the common ground that all of us were made with one blood. We are all related to each other and we exist because of God. Since we are God’s children, it is our duty to seek Him. The good news is that, according to Paul, God isn’t far from each one of us.
Through the preaching of Paul, even in a city infested with influential paganism, there were still people who believed in his preaching.
Finding a common ground is an important initial step to connecting with other people. You can’t possibly preach to people when you antagonize them right off the bat.
As Paul would later write, we must be “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).
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