Thinking in Athens.

(Part one of a talk given May 21, 2017)

Hospitals are often lonely places.

It’s not for lack of people. There are people in and out of rooms at all hours of the day and night, asking how you are doing.

But we’re still lonely, as we lay in beds or sit in chairs or walk the halls to visit or work. Because no one knows our story, our likes and dislikes, our fears and dreams. And even when we ask, the answers take time and take trust to unfold.

chevy and andrewAll of us as humans want to be known. We want to have our hearts cared about. We want to know that other people care enough about us to not constantly judge or second guess or anticipate or over-estimate. We want to not have to live up to or down to expectations.

It’s not that we think we are perfect. Most of us know that we are not. But we also are pretty hopeful that we are not completely imperfect, either.

And I think most of us, if we know we are cared about, are willing to grow, to change, to be renewed, to be reproved. If someone hears how desperate we are, and how fragile, and how valuable.  And wants to help us.

In Acts 17:22-31, we read the notes from a message that Paul preached one day.

Paul went to Athens, by himself, on the run. The last cities he had visited, Paul had quick success. People listened to his message about how much Jesus pursued relationship with people and responded. But then he was resisted, argued with, driven out of town. Even a type A person, with no sales fear, would be feel beat up.

So he went to Athens and planned to wait for his colleagues. He had a chance to simply walk the streets and listen.

Athens had been the center of civilization a few hundred years before this. Until the Romans had conquered everything. But it was still a cultured place. It was the place where argument had been systematized, where democracy had been developed.

He walked up and down the streets, listened to all the conversations about meaning and ideas and hopes and fears.

He saw idols everywhere. We actually know about those idols from school. Remember the greek gods? Zeus and Hera and Ares and  Apollo Those are the idols Paul saw.

And it broke Paul’s heart.