So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for
“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;
as even some of your own poets have said,
“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ – Acts 17:22-28
We are living in the throes of amazing expansion and growth. Houses are going up all around our community. Roads are being expanded and built. More and more people are moving into the community. Some would say, “Enough! We don’t need any more people!”
But this is all of God’s doing and providential will. He, says Paul, “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place” (v. 26). Your new neighbor is God’s gift to you, and all part of God’s plan.
More than that, however, God has placed people where he wills, and in the times he determined for a purpose other than raising our tax base, clogging our roads, or requiring another school bond to build yet another school. These people have been placed in our midst as a sacred trust – that they may seek God, and somehow find him. That’s where you and I come in. We may be our neighbor’s neighbor so that we can help him find God, learn of his grace and truth in Jesus, and enjoy his eternal blessings.
You might not think of that extra car on the freeway, additional student in your child’s classroom, or another family on your street as gifts of God – or better yet – sacred trusts from him. But that’s exactly what they are. It might give you a new way to think of your fellow commuters in the next traffic snarl you endure.