Letter to My Aunt

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I enjoyed my last visit with you all very much and hope to get back later this month if possible. While I was staying at your house, I noticed all the books that line your shelves, and it made me realize what a searcher you are. You are obviously diligent in seeking the truth and examining the options and that is something I really admire. I wonder if you are open to the possibility the truth has been in front of you all the time, but was so obscured by ignorant followers and so lost in the banality of being on every street corner that you missed it.
It has stayed on my mind since I left that you remind me of a story about Paul’s mission trip to Athens when he went to a place called Mars Hill, a place so crowded with statues to every god known to man that all who visited it were amazed. The people of Athens were diligent seekers after the truth and in their effort to not miss even one divinity, they had erected an alter “To An Unknown God.”
We read about Paul’s trip to Athens in Acts 17:16-34. Paul had not planned on going to Athens originally, but because he was run out of town in Berea, he fled on a ship and ended up in Athens waiting for his friends Silas and Timothy.
While Paul was waiting for them, he saw that the city was full of idols, so he argued in the synagogue with the Jews and other devout people, as well as in the marketplace with those who chanced to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also met him there. Some asked, “What would this babbler say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities” They said this because he preached Jesus and this resurrection. And they took hold of him and brought him to the Areopagus (Mars Hill), saying, “May we know what this new teaching is which you present to us? For you bring some strange things to our ears and we wish to know therefore what these things mean.” (Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.)
So Paul standing in the middle of the Areopagus said, “Men of Athens! I perceive that in every way you are a very religious people. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: To An Unknown God. What therefore you worship as unknown this I proclaim to you that the God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man. Nor is he served by human hands as though he needed anything since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything. And he made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation; that they should seek God in the hope that they might feel after him and find him, yet he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and we move and we have our being. As even some of your poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold or silver or stone -a representation by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a Man whom he has appointed. And of this he has given assurance to all men raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:16-31)
On the chance that you have missed the “Unknown God” and are still searching for answers, I wanted to let you know that while everyone who has preached His story is a fallible human being, full of flaws which are so easy to spot, the God people keep searching for is right there — as Paul said, “…he is not far from each one of us.” The “foreign divinity” Paul revealed to the people of Athens was Jesus, and God “will judge the world in righteousness by a Man whom he has appointed (Jesus).”
Paul respected the Athenians’ search for truth as they honored even “An Unknown God” much as I respect your search through the many books you have that seek to find the answers. Sometimes I think the truth is harder for intelligent people to find, because it is hard to put stock in the stuff of Sunday School as much as it is hard to put stock in fairy tales. But is it really such a grasp to believe that while there do indeed exist consequences for our actions and choices, there also exists a God who loves us so much, he removed part of Himself from His lofty and inapproachable heights and sent Himself to earth so that we could relate to Him as flesh and blood? Then He sacrificed Himself so that the debt was paid for our sins, and so that we could also experience the resurrection after death. One life. One death. One resurrection.
As nice as it is to think we might get chance after chance to correct our mistakes, in John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus is either a colossal liar or the Messiah. He is DEFINITELY NOT just a “good man” or a “prophet.” Good men don’t dedicate their entire life and death to huge, whopping lies unless they are insane.
So because I care so much for you and Karen, I want to make sure I have done everything I can to reveal the truth without trying to “push” anything on you. I respect you too much to push, and I love you too much to not say anything.
With love,
Kathryn

10/08/06
My aunt died almost exactly one year after I sent her this letter.
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