“What … you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you.” (Acts 17:23)

Athens: one of the great cities of the classical world. It was a cultural center and home to the philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, as well as many renowned dramatists and artists. Athens was one of the first known democracies in history, and inspired the foundation of democ­racies in our own time. Above all, Athenians were an intellectually curi­ous people. As St. Luke tells us, they “used their time for nothing else but telling or hearing something new.” (Acts 17:21).

But while the Athenians were busy filling their minds, their hearts remained unsatisfied. Paul knew this because of the shrines he saw there devoted to so many different deities—gods of weather, war, agri­culture, learning, and many more. Yet despite all these gods, they knew something was missing, for they had erected an altar to “an unknown God” (Acts 17:23). Paul pointed to that altar to make his point: What all their gods couldn’t do for them, this unknown god could—and his name was Jesus Christ.

These Athenians are not unlike many contemporary people who are looking for God and may not even know it. They may have success­ful careers and a good family. They may own the latest in technology and be on the cutting edge of news, knowledge, and culture, yet still be discontented. They may possess so much, but have so little internally to show for it.

How can we help those who are still searching? How can we show them that Jesus really is the “unknown god” everyone is looking for? It may go against our common sense, but the best way is for us to discover Jesus more deeply in our own lives. We can’t think that we are immune to the temptation to look elsewhere for fulfillment and meaning. But the more deeply we are attached to the Lord, the more clearly our light will shine. We will demonstrate a sense of contentment that will surprise every searcher. Our willingness to forgive, our peace amid struggles, our wisdom for life— all of these will tell everyone around us: I found it! And you can too!

“Here I am, Lord. Mold me into your image for all the world to see.”

Psalm 148:1-2,11-14 John 16:12-15