“While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.” Acts 17:16–17 (NIV84)
The Spirit of God, through persecution, pushed Paul farther and farther east around the Mediterranean Sea until He reached Athens. He found himself in the heart of Greek philosophy. He began to rub elbows with men and women who felt that life was not lived if questions about origin, meaning, morality and destiny were not discussed and debated. They were a people much different from many in our society today. They were in pursuit of truth. Our society, sadly, has concluded there is no such thing and has therefore deemed its pursuit unnecessary. But I’ll save that for another devotion.
Paul found himself, for the first time, defending the Christian faith against some of the deepest thinkers known to mankind. So the question was eventually going to be raised: “Is Christianity a religious leap into spiritual grayness, or can reason and thought be applied to it?” What was really being asked is this: “Does Christianity correlate to truth and cohere to my experience?” (Hence: is it real?). The answer is yes. A lot of world religions may have truths but don’t necessarily match reality. Others may grasp a sense of reality but fail to bring truth to its description. The Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the teachings of the Bible as a whole, ring true. There is evidence that nature was intelligently designed (created). There is evidence that man is basically wicked (ever have to teach your kids to be bad?). People seem to have a built-in yearning to fix something within that they know is broken. There is evidence that people are uniquely different from animals. We are introspective and self-reflective. We can think outside ourselves. We can define things as good and bad, ugly and beautiful. We defy the concept of “survival of the fittest” more often than we live it. Finally, there is evidence that people long to know the how, why, what and who of life.
Christianity alone deals with each of those pursuits with a truth that is coherent and real. In his upcoming defense of the faith before the Areopagus, Paul would use some of these coherent truths before the greatest thinkers of his time. It is my prayer that our society would once again find it valuable to think and discuss the important things. I would love for us to be in pursuit of truth — not just any truth, but a truth that conforms to reality and is coherent with our life experiences.