Monday, May 23, 2011

In an Open Space

Leonard Porter

So Paul took his stand in the open space at the Areopagus and laid it out for them. "It is plain to see that you Athenians take your religion seriously. When I arrived here the other day, I was fascinated with all the shrines I came across. And then I found one inscribed, to the god nobody knows. I'm here to introduce you to this God so you can worship intelligently, know who you're dealing with.

"The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn't live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn't take care of himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don't make him. Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn't play hide-and-seek with us. He's not remote; he's near. We live and move in him, can't get away from him! One of your poets said it well: 'We're the God-created.' Well, if we are the God-created, it doesn't make a lot of sense to think we could hire a sculptor to chisel a god out of stone for us, does it?

"God overlooks it as long as you don't know any better—but that time is past. The unknown is now known, and he's calling for a radical life-change. He has set a day when the entire human race will be judged and everything set right. And he has already appointed the judge, confirming him before everyone by raising him from the dead."

(Acts 17:22-32; The Message)

I can picture Paul standing on the National Mall surrounded by the nation's museum, library, memorials and government. Paul would have felt at home in Athens. He grew up in a center for the Stoic school of philosophy. He had rabbinical and Pharisaic training. He could convolute a run on sentence with the best of them! So there he is, standing on an orator's stand. The learned crowd waiting to hear another frontier bumpkin deride them, mock them, or fall flat trying to emulate them.

What Paul does instead, is to become a pattern throughout the Church's early history. Instead of telling them that they are vile pre-judged pagans on a one way trip to hell, he tells them that both he and they worship the same God! Paul and the other vagabond preachers saw God at work in the world through all people; expanding the definition of chosen.

In a time when we can see the entire globe at once, have we lost this global perspective?


Bill Scarrott said...

You raise some really good questions! Thanks for writting.

Blythe said...

As a lay speaker I am trying to speak to the hearts and minds of the congregation. Paul gives us a make or break it example. Buckets of words rain down from pulpits condemn, confuse, bounce off, etc. Pray I hit the mark. Peace Blythe Ethridge