Friday, March 04, 2005

A "Mars Hill" Moment

I recently had the honor and privilege of teaching for a month in Athens, Greece. My students were enrolled at the Athens Bible Institute and came from the African countries of Nigeria and Cameroon. It is such a blessing to be a small part of helping people expand and deepen their knowledge of God's word. Part of the blessing is experiencing people who are excited, diligent students who have a terrific desire to study the Bible and to then share their faith with others.

You can't go to Athens without making a trip to the ancient ruins of the old market place, the Acropolis and Mars Hill. Acts 17 relates that the apostle Paul observed the religious interests of the Athenians, even to the point of erecting an altar to an unknown god. Paul took advantage of that starting point and used it as the spring-board to tell them about the real God, and His Son, Jesus Christ. Mars Hill, the meeting place of the Areopagus, was the locale of Paul's very significant sermon.

Mars Hill isn't that big. In fact, it's rather small. A friend took my picture and below in the background, you can see the ancient marketplace. It's a place where you can't help but feel a sense of history. Standing on top of Mars Hill means you're within a mere few feet of where Paul stood. It's startling to realize that you're in the place where such a significant address was made that it found room in the inspired word of God. The enormity of Paul's address is even more amazing as you look toward the Acropolis and see the ruins of the temples there.

Here is the enduring point: the world still needs to know about the "unknown God." People do not really know the Creator of the universe, the one God who possesses all authority and power. They do not know the God who is above all gods, and they especially do not know Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Two thousand years may lie between Paul's visit to Mars Hill and my visit, but the needs of mankind remain the same.

Paul and the other early disciples understood clearly the need to "go into all the world" and proclaim the gospel of Jesus. May we get a sense of that same desperate need in our own world.

You may never have the opportunity to stand on Mars Hill. Be assured, however, that wherever you stand, there are people nearby who need to know about Jesus. Don't wait until you get to Greece. Start where you are and help somebody to know the Lord.