August 9, 2010
Breathe in and out. Feel the air rushing into your lungs filling them up with life. Breathe in and out. Blink. Blink again. Sit still and just feel your eyelids opening and closing within seconds. Beat, beat, beat. Hear your heart beating pumping life giving blood throughout your body. Be still and just be for a moment.
There is a God who created you. He created your body to breathe and blink and beat. This God is real. He is not somewhere out there; He is near, right in front of you. God is living. He is moving. And His evidence is within you. God, who created the heavens and the earth, loves you. He wants to grasp your hand. But, first you must reach out to Him.
Not everybody knows this God. God may not have been defined for you. You may have questions about this unknown God. The Athenians worshipped many gods. They had temples erected to numerous gods. But, they also had a god without a name. A god they couldn’t seem to define—An Unknown God.
When Paul came to Athens to preach the gospel, Paul noticed the mention of this Unknown God. Little did the Athenians know, but this Unknown God actually had a name. And Paul came to introduce God to them.
Acts 17:22-28 says, “Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.
"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 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. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'” (NIV)
Paul gave the Athenians a picture of the one true God. A god who they hadn’t been able to define finally became clearer and more real to them. The Athenians were searching whether they knew it or not. They were searching for a God who could actually fill the void in their heart. A God to whom they could direct all of their worship.
My favorite verse in this passage is verse 27 which says, “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.” God did not arrive in Athens when Paul came to preach among the people. God was always there. God was among the Athenians. He was within reach in case any one reached out for Him. He was right in front of them all the time. What they were looking for was there all the time.
I love how the Message puts this passage. “So Paul took his stand in the open space at the Areopagus and laid it out for them. "It is plain to see that you Athenians take your religion seriously. When I arrived here the other day, I was fascinated with all the shrines I came across. And then I found one inscribed, to the god nobody knows. I'm here to introduce you to this God so you can worship intelligently, know who you're dealing with.
"The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn't live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn't take care of himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don't make him. Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn't play hide-and-seek with us. He's not remote; he's near. We live and move in him, can't get away from him! One of your poets said it well: 'We're the God-created.' Well, if we are the God-created, it doesn't make a lot of sense to think we could hire a sculptor to chisel a god out of stone for us, does it?” (The Message)
“God doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s near.” All along the Athenians were practicing religion while God was waiting for them to reach out for the truth. They had fabricated these elaborate gods out of gold and silver and stone, yet they were false. They had no truth or power. They were man made. Finally, their eyes were opened, and they saw the truth in the midst of all the lies.
All they had to do was reach out for the truth. It was within reach. It was not hiding. God is not an elusive mystery that cannot be solved. God is the only truth that needs to be sought with your heart.
What gods do you have surrounding you? Is there something taking place of the truth? Do you really know that what you believe is truth? Have you sought after truth with your full heart and an open mind?
If you still feel empty and broken, unfulfilled and longing, you are missing the truth. You are missing God. But, the good news is that God is within reach. He is not hiding from you. He is simply patiently waiting for you to reach out and clasp His hands. He will never force you. He simply waits for your reach, and it never fails that He is there when you reach out.