Saturday, June 16, 2012

Greece and Willing Surrender to Discovery

To climb to top of Mars' Hill. Photo Creative Commons License Nathan Gibbs.
One theme that attracts me is the natural elements that overflow with indications of willing surrender from which we can learn. This kind of surrender is not giving up or giving in. It is a yielding to what is intended to be the true state. Even hard stone surrenders to chipping, cutting, and even crushing, to make way or to make something fresh.

Surrender can be frightening, and willing surrender is even more so. Yet, from this yielding come many of life's extraordinary events and achievements.

The plain stone stairway (photo may not appear upper right at all times) leads upward to the site of a historic and spiritual place for Greek people. The stairway blends nature because it took form in industrious human hands. Greece's natural stone reflects variations of light and shade in a plan that moves in a narrowing and widening way, upward. These  humble stones lead to Athens' Mars' Hill, featuring idols and gods, such as Ares, Zeus, and Mars with altars to them, plus an altar to the unknown god.

Mars' Hill's altars attracted the attention of a first century follower of Christ, Paul of Tarsus, Syria, who climbed those stone steps to the top of Mars' Hill*. Having reached the top, Paul surrendered himself to what the place offered, points of discussion for the philosophers and debaters with him there.

He got to this place of philosophic discussion and debate because he had been waiting in Athens for friends that were traveling to join him there. Being an observant man, he took note of Athens' abundantly public references to idolatry and to the Athenians' love of debate and questioning. "His spirit was stirred within him," says the record,* and he began to converse in an Athenian synagogue with other Jews, his people, as well as people in the marketplace.  

Stoics, Epicureans, and others took note and began to interrogate him. They finally forced him to go with them up to Mars' Hill, a center for public debates and a place of altars to their gods. The more the philosophers continued to accuse and question Paul there, the more willingly he gave himself up to the opportunity to speak of God and His Son, the Christ, Χριστός, Christos. When he urged them to surrender willingly also to faith in God through Christos, many responded Yes. He had identified the unknown God, now knowable through the Son of the living God.  

Descendants of some who said Yes that day--such as Dionysius, a judge of the Aeropagus, and a woman named Damaris, and others" *--are among today's Christians of all of Greece (Athens, Corinth, and the other places), and Greek people who have migrated to other countries and regions.  

If Paul, earlier known as Saul, of Tarsus, had not willingly surrendered himself to Christ (Acts 9:1-19) and to the Holy Spirit's guidance that led him abroad, including to Athens and the stirring of his inner spirit there, much would have been missed, opportunity lost. Paul's willing submission to where he was and waiting for his friends led ultimately to Mars' Hill. The record of that time redounds to God's glory and faith among Greek people, culture, and history, and throughout the world of Christendom.   

We cannot become sure of realities without the searching that leads us forward and upward. Without willing surrender, we only think, imagine, speculate, wonder, suspect, debate, or doubt within tight limitations. We cannot enter into the discoveries beyond imagination that bring good change into individual lives and entire generations in the future.    

In Thessalonica, a  "great number of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women"* joined with Paul of Tarsus, later an apostle of Jesus Christ. Later, he wrote to his Greek brothers and sisters of faith--including those in Corinth, Colosse, and Thessalonica. He knew what they were going through, persecuted by the world of their towns and country. His letters were heartfelt. 

After willing surrender to the marvels of God, the next most wonderful is the willing surrender to love brothers and sisters in Christ and to grow in communion with them. 

* Bible, book of Acts, 17th chapter; quoted words from The Amplified Bible

In this year 2012, Greece suffers  economic and social turmoil; those living in Greece who believe in the living Christ--as Paul and certain Mars' Hill hearers did ("many clung to him [Paul] and believed" **)--can discover more about faith, hope, and love as they walk with the living Lord today.This willing surrender to Χριστός, Christos, leads to discoveries yet to come. 

Today in Thessalonica (Thessaloniki), Greece: Mayor Yiannis Butaris, a chemist and oenologist (wine and wine-making expert), has expressed concerned confidence about possibilities for the city beyond present-day difficulties. Another example, I opine, of willing surrender to the tasks for purposes of discovery--how a people can make their city better for the long-term view.   

**--see Acts 17:34--King James Version of the Bible (KJV)  
About one Middle Ages Greek church

Text copyright (c)2012 Opinari Writers
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