“Believe this: a new day is coming—in fact, it’s already here—when the importance will not be placed on the time and place of worship but on the truthful hearts of worshipers.” John 4:23 VOICE
The simple message of Jesus brings healing, deliverance and rescue to all people. It starts with God’s people, the Jews, but does not end until all people hear and respond to its call. The Lord clearly speaks in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance“, evidencing His love for all humanity. God is patient and merciful, not wanting anyone to be destroyed, but wanting everyone to turn away from following his own path and to turn toward God. He wants to allow the time needed for as many sinners as possible to turn from their sinful ways.
The gospel message reveals how right and faithful God has been all along. It begins with God’s faithfulness to His creation and His covenant people. Then God acts, finally and decisively, in the cross of Jesus. As the Gospels tell us, in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus entrusts Himself completely to God’s will. As a result, this good news brings faith and hope to those who hear and respond to its graceful message.
Unpacking Acts 17:22-31
The prophets express God’s heart, mind and will in the world. Sometimes their messages are a word-on-target to the people and powers of their day; at other times, they see and speak about the future. They speak the Word of the Lord, which creates true reality and shapes the future.
During Paul’s walk through the city of Athens he observes their strong and diverse religious ethos. Taking note that they were truly religious people, carefully examining the religious statues and inscriptions. He specifically noted on one altar this inscription: “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.”
Speaking to the Athenian philosophers, Paul Informed them them that the God who made the universe and all it contains, the God who is the King of all heaven and all earth. His intent was not to tell them about a strange foreign deity, but about the One whom they already worship, though without full knowledge. It would be illogical for man to assume that a God of this magnitude could possibly be contained in any man-made structure, no matter how majestic. Nor would it be logical to think that God needs human beings to provide Him with food and shelter. He is the only universal God, the One who makes all people whatever their nationality or culture or religion.
Paul Speaks to the Leaders of Athens
Paul spoke to the leaders of Athens about the worship of idols in that city. It was clear to him how extravagant they are in their worship of idols. As he walked through the city, Paul was captivated by the many shrines and objects of their worship. He even found an inscription on one altar that read, ‘To the Unknown God.’ So, he introduced them to this God they worshiped without even knowing anything about him.
What is an idol?
First, let’s define idol. An idol is anything that gets between us and God, and it is whatever we worship more than God or instead of God. It could be money, family, shopping, sports, fame, education, political leaders, or just fill in the blank, but whatever we treasure more than God is what our idol is. Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
As humans, we tend to worship that which is most important to us, and if it’s not God, then its idolatry, however, I think every single one of us are guilty at one time or another, because every one of us have our own idols. They might be the same ones that others have, or they might be something totally different. Spiritual or political leaders can become idols in our lives if we elevate them above God.
In part 2 of this message, I’ll discuss more about what idolatry is, and some of the things we tend to worship as believers.
As we walk in the light, the glory of the Lord will rise upon the Church.