“Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So, you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.” – ACTS 17:22–23, NIV.
Before I became a Christian, I would never admit it, but I used to pray. Especially when I was in trouble. While I professed to be an atheist, I knew deep down that there was more to this life, and that God was real.
Paul’s address to the people of Athens was deeply wise and intentional. He made sure he knew enough about them to be relevant to their lives. He affirmed the Athenians’ religious ways and used that to introduce them to the only living God. While this seems like a brilliant strategy, I also believe Paul genuinely cared about the people he spoke to.
If we read further in the text, Paul goes on to quote some of the Greek’s own literature: “‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring’” (Acts 17:28). He was quoting the Cretan philosopher, Epimenides, and the Cilician Stoic philosopher, Aratus.
Paul knew how to “die to himself” so that he would not bring his pre-conceived culture, set of values, or method to the people he preached to, but instead, bring them Christ and Him alone. “… I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).
If we are serious about sharing our faith with others, we must not shrink away from taking the time to know them, affirm them, and speak to them about our wonderful Lord and Savior in ways they can understand. We might be called to witness to people from a culture totally different from ours. Or it may be to members of our own families. Our differences are not an issue, but an opportunity.
Prayer — Oh God, you are mighty to save. May you use us to bring others to Christ. May we not get in the way of salvation. Help us die to ourselves and learn to become all things to all people so that they may know you. Help us do so without compromising the hope or the truth that we hold so dear. Give us wisdom, discernment, humility, and love. Amen.
Go deeper — Who would you like to share the Gospel with today? How can you learn more about them, and build a loving and affirming relationship with them? What would sharing the Gospel in a way that is relevant to them look like? Pray about it and follow through on the next step you feel God is leading you to take.
This devotional first appeared on TheLife.com.