When I was a Baylor University student forty years ago, the religion courses were limited to, for the most part, Old Testament, New Testament, Greek, Hebrew, Ethics, Church History, and Theology. The religion courses at New York University include American Religion; Religion and Medicine; Intro to Buddhism; Sex, Gender and the Bible; Monsters and Jewish Modernity; Intro to Ancient Indian Literature; Living a Good Life: Greek and Jewish Perspectives; Modern Jewish History; and Sufis: Mystics of Islam.
Today’s religion departments sound like ancient Greece’s continuing ed program. Athens was a university town filled with sophisticated intellectuals. Philosophers sat around the marketplace talking about the latest ideas and obscure theories. While religious pluralism may be a new experience for some of us, it is not a new experience for Paul. He recognizes their genuine longing for God and does not criticize their open-mindedness. He even quotes two Stoic poets—Epimenides, “in him we live and move and have our being” and Aratus, “we too are his offspring.”
Paul proclaims that God is not far from any of us. Some of us were surprised when we first met Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims who live grace-filled lives because of their love of God. Those who are not paying attention may try to believe that only those with the name of Christian have any truth, but we shouldn’t be thrown when we discover that others are closer to God than we’ve been led to believe they could be.
God made everything, including the space for us to look for God. God is not hiding. We find God when we understand that we live each day in God.
What does it mean to know that in God we “live and move and have our being” (v. 28)?
God, help me see your light in places others might think are dark. Amen.