Reflections on Acts 17:
I was encouraged this past week at the memorial service for the victims of the “movie massacre” when President O’bama quoted Revelations and said, “He will wipe all tears from their eyes and there will be no more death for the former things have passed away.” I found myself talking to the television screen, however, asking the question, Who is He?” It’s not the president’s job to explain to us who this God is, but the lack of mentioning who God is was telling to me in a culture where God is strangely absent.
I don’t know about you, but I miss God in our culture. When I go to the movies I am often struck that there is rarely an acknowledgement of God. Rarely do we see the characters worshipping on Sundays and prayer is almost non-existent. Like the culture in Athens, there is a tendency to create gods in our own image rather than trying to understand the God in whose image we were created. Paul was distressed when he saw all of the idols, but no understanding of the one true God. It’s alarming to me that many of our most famous actors are falling for a religion like Scientology created by a Science Fiction writer.
Paul was invited to the Areopagus to discuss with the philosophers who this God was that he was talking about. I find it interesting that the Areopagus was described as a place where people did nothing but talk about and listen to the latest ideas. I watched a rare interview with Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia the other day. The interviewer was chiding him for championing constitutional ideas like the death penalty and his pro-life stance. The reporter indicated that these ideas were old-fashioned and not in touch with modern culture. Scalia defended himself quite well saying that none of our modern politicians could have framed The Federalist Papers or the Constitution today.
More concerning was a sermon I heard about that was preached a few weeks ago in an evangelical church that made the case that the church was wrong about a flat earth, wrong about divorce, and now it is time to rethink our stance on human sexuality especially as it relates to homosexuality. It was a clever literary ploy to compare being pro marriage between a man and a woman to believing in a flat earth. His point was that the church needs to get with the times.
Paul pointed to a statue with the inscription, “To the Unknown God.” He then proceeded to tell them who He was. Paul told these modernists the ancient story of how all people descended from one man who led to Christ who was crucified and raised from the dead and that people everywhere were now to repent of their sins and turn from idols and worship this previously unknown God. This is still our message. I’m still a Jesus guy and He is the Unknown God. Thanks for referring to God in your remarks the other day President O’bama. Now let’s go tell our communities who He is.