22 Then Paul stood before the meeting of the Areopagus. He said, “Men of Athens, I can see that you are very religious in all things. 23 I was going through your city, and I saw the things you worship. I found an altar that had these words written on it: “TO A GOD WHO IS NOT KNOWN.” You worship a god that you don’t know. This is the God I am telling you about! 24 He is the God who made the whole world and everything in it. He is the Lord of the land and the sky. He does not live in temples that men build! 25 This God is the One who gives life, breath, and everything else to people. He does not need any help from them. He has everything he needs. 26 God began by making one man. From him came all the different people who live everywhere in the world. He decided exactly when and where they must live. 27 God wanted them to look for him and perhaps search all around for him and find him. But he is not far from any of us: 28 ‘By his power we live and move and exist.’ Some of your own poets have said: ‘For we are his children.’ 29 We are God’s children. So, you must not think that God is like something that people imagine or make. He is not like gold, silver, or rock. 30 In the past, people did not understand God, but God ignored this. But now, God tells everyone in the world to change his heart and life. 31 God has decided on a day that he will judge all the world. He will be fair. He will use a man to do this. God chose that man long ago. And God has proved this to everyone by raising that man from death!”
1 Peter 3:13-22
13 If you are always trying to do good, no one can really hurt you. 14 But you may suffer for doing right. Even if that happens, you are blessed.
“Don’t be afraid of the things they fear.
Do not dread those things.
15 But respect Christ as the holy Lord in your hearts.” Isaiah 8:12-13
Always be ready to answer everyone who asks you to explain about the hope you have. 16 But answer in a gentle way and with respect. Always feel that you are doing right. Then, those who speak evil of your good life in Christ will be made ashamed. 17 It is better to suffer for doing good than for doing wrong. Yes, it is better, if that is what God wants. 18 Christ himself died for you. And that one death paid for your sins. He was not guilty, but he died for those who are guilty. He did this to bring you all to God. His body was killed, but he was made alive in the spirit. 19 And in the spirit he went and preached to the spirits in prison. 20 These were the spirits who refused to obey God long ago in the time of Noah. God was waiting patiently for them while Noah was building the boat. Only a few people—eight in all—were saved by water. 21 That water is like baptism that now saves you—not the washing of dirt from the body, but the promise made to God from a good heart. And this is because Jesus Christ was raised from death. 22 Now Jesus has gone into heaven and is at God’s right side. He rules over angels, authorities, and powers.
15 “If you love me, you will do the things I command. 16 I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper.[a] He will give you this Helper to be with you forever. 17 The Helper is the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him because it does not see him or know him. But you know him. He lives with you and he will be in you.
18 “I will not leave you all alone like orphans. I will come back to you. 19 In a little while the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you will live, too. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father. You will know that you are in me and I am in you. 21 He who knows my commands and obeys them is the one who loves me. And my Father will love him who loves me. I will love him and will show myself to him.”
Who can tell me what Jupiter, Neptune, Mars, Mercury, Venus, Pluto and Saturn are? Let me give you a hint, I am not talking about the planets. These are the names of some of the Greek gods. I am not sure how many of you have learned about the ancient Greeks in school yet, but here is a bit of a history lesson, to try to give some perspective about what Paul is saying in our reading from Acts. The Greeks did not believe in God, at least not the God we know, or that people of Israel knew. In fact, the Greeks did not believe in just one god, they believed in a lot of gods. The gods they believed in all had different personalities, areas of interest, and powers. Some gods were smart, some were strong, some were focused on love and beauty, some on war. There were gods in charge, and minor gods that were like assistants. The Greeks, like the Romans, the Egyptians, and many other peoples throughout history, saw gods as a race of powerful beings, like people but different, that lived somewhere else and took care of human affairs like godly hobbies. Mars helped soldiers in war, Neptune ruled the seas, Athena helped those looking for wisdom, while Apollo made the sun move, and Jupiter kept them all in line. No matter what you job, or what you were doing in life, the Greeks believed there was a god that you could pray to and worship to help you out. So this was the world Paul was in when the story from Acts took place. He knew the Greeks were religious because there were temples to all these gods everywhere, and one in particular he took notice of. There was a temple to the “Unknown God”. You see the Greeks, even though they did not realize it, did know our God, the God. What is more, they understood that God was not like these other ideas of gods they had. There was not one personality, or job, or power that could be ascribed to God, it was unknown. Paul taught them about God, and how God was different. In versus 24 and 25 Paul says, “He is the God who made the whole world and everything in it. He is the Lord of the land and the sky. He does not live in temples that men build! This God is the One who gives life, breath, and everything else to people. He does not need any help from them.” The Greeks believed that each god had their own area of life and they did not cross paths, but God is not like that. God is the God of all, not some. And this was the key to what Paul was trying to teach.
Paul was the Apostle who was chosen to take the word of God, the story of Jesus to people outside of Israel, to teach the gentiles. Before everyone thought that Jesus had come to save the people of Israel, to be the King of the Jews, but God is the God of all, not some. Not some parts of the world, not some parts of our lives, not only some of the people. Paul was inviting the outsiders in, to come learn about Jesus and to understand that God was for them as well. ‘By his power we live and move and exist.’ Some of your own poets have said: ‘For we are his children. “’ 29 We are God’s children. So, you must not think that God is like something that people imagine or make. He is not like gold, silver, or rock.” God was different from the Greek gods, not a statute or a temple to be worshiped. Not only concerned with the people of one culture or state. God was everyone’s father and everyone was one of God’s children, they just might not realize it yet. I have two daughters, am I more one’s father than the other? No. Being that they share a father, they are siblings, sisters, connected to each other by birth and blood. What does that mean then when Paul says we are all God’s children? It means that we are all connected by birth and blood, our birth in God, our baptism, and the blood of Jesus that we all share. Now that probably doesn’t make much sense to you, yet, but it is something to think about and ask questions about. What is important, and far easier to understand, is that just like children who have the same human father are siblings, the children of God are all brothers and sisters too. When we tell the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus is asked, “Who is my neighbor?” The question Paul is answering before it is even asked is, “Who is my brother, who is my sister?” We need to see everyone like this, and treat the world as our family.