Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter
May 17, 2023
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Paul is the headliner at the famed Areopagus in Athens.
The Areopagus is a prominent rock outcropping located northwest of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. The name Areopagus also referred, in classical times, to the Athenian governing council, because they convened in this location. It was the ancient version of a stadium, but one provided by nature rather than human hands.
Paul’s address, from Acts today, has been perfectly crafted for his audience who are Gentile intellectuals and philosophers. We are familiar, up until now, with Paul’s speeches to Jews whom he wishes to convert. In those circumstances, he drew on the Hebrew scriptures with which they are familiar. But for the Athenians, Paul uses their art, poetry and philosophy to lead them to the topic of Jesus as the one true God.
And things go well for Paul in his long and finely detailed oration. The thoughtful Athenians are listening, that is until they hit a snag:
(Paul proclaimed) God demands that all people everywhere repentActs 17:30-33
because he has established a day on which he will ‘judge the world
with justice’ through a man he has appointed,
and he has provided confirmation for all
by raising him from the dead.”
When they heard about resurrection of the dead,
some began to scoff, but others said,
“We should like to hear you on this some other time.”
And so Paul left them.
Jesus Christ, Risen from the dead is the touchstone of our Christian faith. It is the Sacred Reality that surpasses and changes every other reality we encounter.
Resurrection faith is not something we can study, analyze, or comprehand with simply the powers of our minds. That’s what the Athenians tried to do, but their analytical inclinations blocked them.
Resurrection faith is a Divine gift, given through the Spirit, to a heart opened in trust and readiness to God. It defies logic and philosophy because it is greater than they are. For one who has this kind of faith, explanations are not only unnecessary, they are restrictive and superfluous.
Jesus understood that to live with such faith is challenging. He suggests that the disciples cannot bear the weight of it without the indwelling companionship of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said to his disciples:John 16:12-13
“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when the Spirit comes, the Spirit of truth,
you will be guided to all truth.
As people desiring to grow in faith, we can learn from the Athenians who walked away from the Grecian hillside. Is my capacity to believe limited by what my small human intellect can define? Or are my heart and mind given in trust to the infinite God Who loves me into the fullness of Truth.
Poetry: Tell All the Truth, but Tell It Slant – Emily Dickenson
Tell all the Truth but tell it slant –
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind –
Music: The Faith – Leonard Cohen
One thought on “Faith and Truth”
Amen! Beautiful post!