Read Acts 17:22-23
22 So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, 23 for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about. (NLT)
Because humans were created in the image of God, they are incurably ‘religious’. However, deeply buried or vehemently denied, there is a sense of the spiritual. Christians believe that this ought to lead us to trust in Jesus as the one who truly reveals the one true God to us. Others seek other gods.
Paul highlights this as he speaks to the Athenian crowd. The deity they seek is actually to be found in Jesus. Throughout his speech, Paul recognises that these Athenians were genuinely seeking something or someone. He doesn’t rubbish them so much as remind them bluntly of the inadequacy of their search.
We need to remember two things when encountering those of other faiths. One is that if we are to seek others’ conversion we need to be truly converted ourselves. We so often fatally compromise our witness by our failure to be Christlike, our aggression born of insecurity, our confusion of Christianity and western culture.
The other thing to remember is that God goes before us. He is not without witness. The God who loves all seeks all, the good shepherd goes looking for his sheep and doesn’t hang around waiting for us to get on the job. Whoever we meet, however we meet them, God has got there first.