On Sunday, those gathered were from Bulgaria, Albania, Greece, Switzerland, Ukraine, Russia, Australia, South Africa, Iran, Iraq, and Texas. We used three different songbooks and the Greek, Cyrillic, and Roman alphabet.
The Lord’s Prayer was prayed simultaneously multi-tongued. The Spirit interceded in an unutterable language according to St. Paul in Romans 8, to make the thoughts of our hearts known to God. Regardless of country of origin, the bread was broken in Ƙoinonia (Fellowship) and the cup was taken with Agape for the One who bought His Church with His own blood.
I preached twice yesterday in Athens at two wonderful congregations. I told them that their services at first reminded me of the Tower of Babel, but as I thought about it, I realized that God had used different languages to drive men apart in that story because of their haughtiness and pride. Jesus, of course, came to break down the walls and unify people,which is why we could all sit together in one room. Our different languages are the remnants of punishment for our pride, but what seems today like a barrier is, in fact, the hope and promise of feasting with all the nations at the banquet of the Lamb.
These multi-national churches are like a taste of heaven!
And why is this? Not so long ago, I reminded you of what St. Paul said in this same city two thousand years ago, when he had the opportunity to talk about the Unknown God with the Athenians:
From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.
God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. Acts 17:24
We visited with four Muslims who will be baptized next week. We talked with a Christian Iraqi preacher who fled with his wife and three children because of death threats. We heard about twenty-five Africans in Athens training to be preachers.
Greece is considered unreceptive! Churches in America will not spend money in Europe because post-Christian Europeans don’t want to listen to American missionaries!
But what about the rest of the world that is in Europe? What about the nations? What about all the world? What about God’s Spirit being poured out on all flesh? What about God putting people in the exact place where they should live so that they will seek Him and find Him? What about the peoples that God has put in Europe?
Maybe that’s too many rhetorical questions, but just come to Athens and see. Visit the islands, enjoy the ruins and biblical sites, but don’t forget to see the nations!