Easter 6 :: My God is bigger than your God!

“I see how extremely religious you are in every way.” [Acts 17.22]

Scotland 2013 091

St. Andrew’s, Fort William, Scotland

St. Paul had been in Athens for a short while, walking around the city and viewing all the statues and shrines to the pantheon of gods the people worshipped. During his time there, he began to discuss with the people—Jews, God-fearing Greeks, philosophers, and anyone who would listen to him—about his belief in Jesus. He soon found himself standing in the Areopagus, an ancient court site, accused of preaching about foreign gods. Just 500 years prior, Socrates was also put on trial at that very place, accused of the very same thing. Remember his fate?

It is perhaps a good lesson to us that Paul did not try to convince the crowd that his was the true spiritual path and theirs was false. Too often nowadays we hear of Christians who take such a negative approach:

“Jesus is the one true way and if you don’t believe in him right away your soul is in jeopardy.”

“My God is bigger than your god!”

I don’t think such tactics serve the cause of Christ well at all. In fact such in-your-face proselytizing has turned many away from wanting anything to do with Jesus or the church.

Rather, Paul simply acknowledged the great faith of the Athenians. He met the people on their terms, listening to their stories and placing a challenge before them. Noticing an altar dedicated to an “Unknown God” Paul revealed the God of Jesus as that Unknown God. And he shared with them Who this God was: the Creator and Redeemer of the whole world. He called the people to repentance, but not with words of condemnation but of hope.

I wonder what would’ve happened had Paul stood up and told everyone they were going to Hell if they didn’t repent right then and there?

Do you think they still used hemlock?


Link to RCL Lectionary for the 6th Sunday of Easter, Year A


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