Altering Our Altars

Please Read >> Acts 17

 

 

My children and I love playing Mad Libs, we enjoy the anticipation of hearing our random input turned into a complete story.  Fill in the blank…and see what results.  Paul compliments the Greek people who are so careful in the appreciation of the divine that they create an altar to an unknown God, just in case they have missed one. 

Paul fills in the blank.  He had come to Athens to share the message about Jesus Christ.  While sharing it in the synagogue some of the philosophers there heard his “babbling” and were so puzzled by his message they wanted to hear more.  This message was completely unknown to them.  Apparently they enjoyed talking about anything new, it was their way of life.  Paul saw an opportunity in this conversation to fill in the blank of their lives with something new, but not only some new and unknown, a message that was life-giving.

Paul began by complementing how religious they were and the blank he sought to fill came from an altar to an unknown god.  “What therefore you worship as unknown, I proclaim to you” (verse 23).  Paul boldly shares that the God who made everything, a God much bigger than anything their temples had imagined,  has come in Jesus Christ so that the power of death will be defeated.

Do we act religious with an altar to an unknown God?  Perhaps we do not have a Mars Hill with a collection of temples and shrines but our God can remain distant and unknown when we push Him away.  God wants to be known, He makes that clear by becoming a human being. Ephesians 2:13 says, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”  We sacrifice time, energy and life at many other altars in our life if we have no time to know God.  God doesn’t want to be unknown.

Luther’s small catechism talks about our relationship with God when it says – “fear, love and trust in God above all things” and “gladly hear and learn” God’s word and use God’s name to “pray, praise and give thanks.”  God invites us into relationship with him.  A relationship that is open where we show our love, we trust in Him, where our fear of Him casts out all other fear.  God invites us to have open minds, to be lifelong learners about who He is and how He is working in this world. 

This relationship is at the core of who we are and affects everything we do.  If this relationship is full we are able to be there for another person who is suffering from an emptiness, a blank spot in their life.  Perhaps they will have an altar, a vague hope, an expectation that there is something more, and God will give you that audience of one.

 

 

 

 

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