Altar to the Unknown God

Acts 17:34  

My family had afforded me every opportunity to become a great woman of honor. I was sent to the best schools and learned from the most honored scholars of my time, which was no small feat in the city of Athens. At the time I was born, only a few select highly intelligent class of women known as Hetairai had ever made it to such a place of honor as the Areopagus in Athens without marrying into the position. I was one of those precious few. I had done the work, earned my place, and made the cut.

3258951_origAthens was still so beautiful! Not the great city it once was, but people came to the city from all over to study and to trade. Inside the city’s most famous building, the Parthenon, stood the statue of our city’s namesake, the protector-goddess Athena. She stood majestically over our city holding a gold tipped spear and adorned with a golden head-piece that everyone could see for miles. I worshipped her for such a great city, but I worshipped many gods.  That’s what intellects do, just in case.

Athens hails of great men like Pericles, Socrates, and Plato. I loved Athens because it was the center of learning, filled with intellectuals spending their days philosophizing. I positioned myself here for that very reason. I had worked hard and in doing so, I earned a position sitting in council at the critical Mars Hill.

Most of my colleagues at Mars Hill would side with one of two major philosophies. The Epicurean philosophers believed that the chief purpose for living was pleasure and happiness. If God existed, he didn’t interfere in human affairs. The Stoic philosophers felt that a great “purpose” was directing history. I was a Stoic, believing “I am the master of my own fate.”

Philosophers are ever interested in hearing new ideas. I was pleased to hear about this new religion that Paul of Tarsus was presenting. The central body of Paul’s speech was of God as the Creator, who made the world and every thing in it. This Creator doesn’t live in man-made temples, even spectacular wonder-of-the-world Greek structures like the one a few hundred yards up from where we sat. Out of a hungry curiosity somehow I connected with what he was saying.

He began by scrutinizing how “very religious” we claimed, based on the fact that we had many altars and “objects of worship” including an altar to “the Unknown God.” He taught that the unknown god was not unknowable, but if I gave myself to him, he would live inside of me. Paul used that altar to introduce us to the one true God and the only way of salvation, Jesus Christ.

What happened that day on Mars Hill was important. Of course, many of my peers scoffed at the idea that Christ was crucified and rose from the dead on the third day because the idea of the resurrection was foolishness. But I chose to believe and was saved.

Accepting that my endless search for great knowledge had not satisfied the emptiness of my soul, I chose to follow Paul and his teaching that day at Mars Hill. I allowed the one true God, who holds the real meaning to life, to fill my emptiness and change my life forever.

My name is Damaris and I am a Christian.

~ ~ ~

Your Turn:  Knowledge cannot fill the hunger for truth.  Have you ever been like Damaris and had an unknown god, only to come face to face with God’s plan for you life?  Share with us on our blog.  Post your thoughts in the comments below.  ~ Cindy



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