Peace be with you!
If you are anything like me, you have certain sentimental things that you keep because they hold memories of the past. I have Lolly, the doll the hospital gave me when I was born. I have a cross with a girl praying that has hung above my light switch ever since I can remember, even with all of the moving I have done throughout my life. I have the cross my church gave me for confirmation. I have the wooden bunny Nathan gave me on our first date twenty-some years ago. I have the post card my mom sent me my first week of college twelve years ago. I have several cards mentors, family members, and friends have sent me over the years. Each of these items holds a special place in my heart. These items remind me of the individuals who have supported me throughout my lifetime. Even though treasured items can sometimes be blessings, at times they can become idols in our lives. Even religious items can come to be such idols. We see this to be true in our reading for today.
Paul makes an appeal to the Athenians to look around and examine their relationship with God the Father. The Athenians are highly educated group of people who know the Old Testament and the story of Jesus Christ. The Athenians are artists by trade who have created masterpieces telling the Biblical stories and representing “an unknown god.” Paul commends the Athenians for being religious, yet he questions their intentions. Are the Athenians worshipping the one true God? Or are they worshipping other gods? Why do they need a whole city filled with masterpieces of their religious faith?
Paul points to the shrines that the Athenians have built with their human hands. Paul reminds the Athenians God is Lord of heaven and earth and is not limited to the shrines (Acts 17:24) and does not need to be served by human hands (Acts 17:25). God is the one who made our ancestors’ and our existence possible (Acts 17:26). God controls our movements, our speech, and our existence; he controls time and places. The inscription to “an unknown god” does not honor the God Paul knows and loves. God is known to us in all we do and in the actions of others. Our God is a known God.
Therefore, Paul calls the Athenians to repent for worshipping their idols over the one true God. The Athenians need to repent to God. They need to bring him their brokenness; only in this way can they come to be in a relationship with the God who sent his Son into the world to rise from the dead (Acts 17:31). We are called into a relationship with God who surpasses any limits we set for him. He is a God who knows no boundaries.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for creating the time, the boundaries, the lives of individuals, and the space for us to live in the world. Create in us a clean heart. Remind us to honor the boundaries you set for our existence. Thank you for surpassing our limits. Amen.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the behavior covenant by commenting on it.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
- What sentimental objects do you hold onto? How do these objects limit God’s presence in the world?
- How do you worship the one true God?