Do you know God?

Acts 17:22-31 The Unknown God???

{22) 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. {23} 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. {24} “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. {25} 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. {26} 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. {27} 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. {28} ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ {29} “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone–an image made by man’s design and skill. {30} In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. {31} For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”

     Today we have many people acknowledging AN UNKNOWN GOD. Most people will say they believe in God; but they do not really know him; who he is or what he is like; or take him all that seriously. This god is someone out there who has set the world in motion and then left it to run by itself; and is a god who will receive them all into heaven when their time is up here on earth.

Sadly we also have many today who claim that there is no God. They have hardened their hearts to such an extent, that their egotism will not allow even their conscience to remind them of the reality of the God who is there. They seek their meaning for existence in the goodness of humanity, but are all left in wonderment and despair.

However, just as in Athens of Paul’s day, so also we today have many objects of worship, but to the people who worship them, they have little connection to the true God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. On Friday there was great reverence and crowds of people, all remembering the heroics of great men; and seeking to gain strength and courage for our nation from this. This is good, up to a point. We need to be thankful for those who lived and died for their nation. All Australians look up to and see many things as being that which will give us what we need for this life and beyond. However, all these form of reverence and idealism that do not have their basis in the One true God, are a problem and will leave us short of what we really need.

On top of that we have people religiously following Allah, Buda and many other similar gods and new age thinking. The thinking is that here is the one who should be worshipped. However, they are not the true and only God: The one who is the Lord of heaven and earth. So we cannot accept them as being on the same path to heaven, or tolerate them as a real expression of Christianity. They are religious, but worshippers of God Almighty himself.

Sadly, too often, even within Christian circles there are many people who are religious; but who do not know God. They know all kinds of facts about him, but they do not know him. Others believe and speak of a god and worship him, without understanding and accepting Jesus Christ as the Son of God who came and died on the cross for our salvation. Others acknowledge God; but they make no attempt to listen to or heed what he has to say. Others think that the only way they will be acceptable to him, is to live up to a certain standard of “Christian life”

Here in the face of all of this religious thinking, the true God, through Paul, is proclaiming very clearly who he is. He is the Lord of heaven and earth. In other words he is the one and only true God that can be found anywhere. He is the Almighty God who is supreme over all. There are no other Gods besides him. He alone then is the one who is to be worshipped and glorified. He alone is the one who is to be looked up to and followed. Every other object of worship is a worthless idol and a distraction from what is right and true and in the end will prove disastrous.

This Lord of heaven and earth we are reminded here is not a God who is limited to churches, statues, books or anything else at all. As much as he is there in all of those things, he is much more and beyond anything that we could possibly make him to be. He is not a God who conforms to our limitations and thinking. He does not even need us to serve him. He is one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Eph 4:6) He is as we learnt in our confirmation lessons; omni almost everything; unlimited by time, space, and in power, knowledge and understanding. His greatness is way beyond human understanding.

Yet as we heard in our Gospel reading today; he chooses to live with you and will be in you. (John 14:17) That is all who believe, trust and desire to live in him. Jesus goes on to say; I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:18-20) This great God has chosen to dwell with and in us human beings; his creation. Isn’t that something amazing!

Particularly when we remember that we are not the centre of the world. The world does not revolve around us; but the Almighty God is the centre of it all. He himself gives all men [all people] life and breath and everything else. And not just gives us life, but he determined the times set for us and the exact places where we should live. God did this so that all people would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. Even though he the Supreme Being he is at work in our lives and is close to us.

Even though we have sinned and chosen to go our own way, he allows troubles and hardships to be a part of our lives so that we would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him. He does not erase us from the face of the earth because of our selfish egotism, but works through all the mistakes we make and difficulties that are imposed on us by a sinful world. He is constantly seeking to draw us to himself; trying to make us aware that we need him and the forgiveness and salvation that Jesus won for us through his life, death and resurrection.

Through Jesus and his death on the cross and our connection to him and his death and resurrection, through our baptism we are assured that we are now God’s children. His Spirit now lives in us and goes with us as we live out our life day by day. We are God’s offspring.

Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone–an image made by man’s design and skill. Since he has done all of this for us and continues to live with us and in us, now we surely will treat him with much respect. We will trust him and take him seriously. He will mean much more to us than our money, material things and technology. We will not treat him as a possession or as one who should do what we want him to do.
Surely we will look up to him; wanting to live in a close personal relationship with him; wanting to be where he wants us to be and to do what he wants us to do. What is important to him will be important to us. He will be our Lord and our God.

Here let us not forget those other words that he spoke also. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead. So we are reminded that he does look closely at who we are and what we think, say and do. His Son Jesus, who came into our world and died on the cross for us, will also come and judge us all on that last day. He knows if we have taken him seriously or not. He knows what we believe and whether we trust him and all that he has done for us. Take note; he knows and he judges.

So take heart; here we are reminded again that our God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit is for real. He is the Almighty Lord of heaven and earth. He is the only true God and he seeks to be not far from each one of us. He loves us, forgives us and made us his very own. Believe him. Trust in him; and take him seriously. For to him alone belongs all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN.

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