by Wissam Al-Aethawi, World Traveler and Author of "Been There"
Greece is a country that boasts of its Christian culture today—even though many of its tourists would tell you that the country, as a whole, does not act like it. Near the very beginning of its constitution, you can read “The prevailing religion in Greece is that of the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ,” making Greece more rigid about its national religion than most of its Muslim neighbors.
And yet, being Greek, at one time, used to be the antithesis of being a believer in the God of Abraham. Jewish people religiously resisted Hellenization, which was a synonym for degeneracy and immorality. The whole nonbelieving world was called “Greek” at some point, as in “Jews and Greeks.”
So what was the turning point?
Although Paul would often introduce Jesus to his audience as the fulfillment of God’s promises in the scriptures and the conclusion to the history of Israel, the apostle knew very well that his Athenian audience was neither familiar with the Old Testament nor did they care about Israel. In Acts 17, Paul was speaking to an audience of mostly philosophers who had believed in the necessity of the existence of the Higher Power, or higher powers, for centuries. Paul shared that belief—except that he said that only one God has actually proven to exist. That God, according to Paul, “commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all BY RAISING HIM FROM THE DEAD.” Acts 17:30-31.
The Athenian audience was not enthusiastic about the newly discovered One God; nevertheless, the resurrection of Jesus—which we are commemorating this season—would soon turn Athens, and the rest of the world, upside down.