January 19, 2009

An Unknown God

There's a story of Paul in Acts 17 where he's been taken to Athens for his own safety. He's waiting there for Silas & Timothy to arrive and so he's checking out the local flavor. He begins to be troubled by all the idols set up in the city so he heads to the synagogue to see if he can strum up some conversation. First he debates with the Jews & "God-fearing Gentiles" and then moves on to the "Epicurean & Stoic philosophers". Naturally, trouble finds Paul. He winds up standing before the Areopagus, being quizzed about this "Jesus" nonsense he's preaching. In other words, this council of philosophers opens the door and Paul steps through it!

Paul politely tells them that he's noticed they are "very religious", that they have altars set up everywhere, and that they even have one set up to "an Unknown God". Is it just me, or does Athens sound a lot like where we live? Paul is noticing that these people are searching for something to fill the void - they are "seeking after God" - they just don't know WHO He is or HOW to find Him. Again, this is sounding familiar isn't it?

There are people all around us who are trying desperately to fill the void in their lives - and many of them are reaching and grasping for anything that even looks like it might bring fulfillment and satisfaction. You and I know that if that something isn't Jesus Christ...it will eventually run dry or come up empty. But how do we communicate this today? How do I share this truth with my neighbor or my friend or my coworker? My thought is...do what Paul does!

Paul simply told these men of Athens that God "himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need there is." So, what was it you were looking for again? What was it you were so desperately in need of? Peace? Hope? Joy? Satisfaction? Comfort? Purpose? Yes! He has that! Remember, "he satisfies every need there is." Paul goes on to tell them that "His purpose in all of this was that the nations should seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him - though he is not far from any of us." This sure seems to be reverberating Jeremiah 29:11-13!

Do you know someone who is seeking - someone who is looking for God, but looking in the wrong place? Then you're called to share with them that "God overlooked people's former ignorance about these things, but now he commands that everyone everywhere...turn away from idols and turn to him." And let's be honest and real: not everyone that day fell down, repented, and trusted Christ. But "some joined him and became believers." Aren't those "some" worth us speaking up? Isn't just ONE worth telling?

I encourage you today: look around, take notice, and with eyes of compassion, words of life, and a heart of love...SPEAK UP! Let them know who this "Unknown God" is that they're really looking for - that He has made himself known - and His name is Jesus Christ.

John 14:6
Acts 17:16-34
Matthew 16:24-26

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