While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he argued in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and also in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Also some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers debated with him. Some said, “What does this babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign divinities.” (This was because he was telling the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.) So they took him and brought him to the Areopagus and asked him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? It sounds rather strange to us, so we would like to know what it means.” Now all the Athenians and the foreigners living there would spend their time in nothing but telling or hearing something new.
Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands. ~ Acts 17:16-24
How is it that we share our faith?
What do you see Paul doing here?
"Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are..." He's got them listening just like that!
Now, it is easy to compliment others for manipulative purposes. And maybe that's what Paul's doing here.
But I don't think so.
I think Paul noticing the group he is talking to.
He is observant.
And he is open-hearted.
Do we take the time to notice the people around us that we want to share our faith stories with?
Do we observe their lives and the ways in which they are already part of God's story without knowing it?
There are many around us just like the Athenians who are longing for something more: people who need connection and love and a story that is meaningful to their lives.
So before we tell them our stories, perhaps we need first to notice them and their lives and see what connections already exist. Maybe we need to ask them for their stories first.
Lord, help me to see the stories in my neighbors' lives and show them where your story and theirs already connect! Amen