Finding God

When Paul was in Athens, waiting for Silas and Timothy to join him, he was disturbed to see the city full of idols.  He talked to the Jews and God-fearing Greeks in the synagogue and to the people in the marketplace, discussing with them idols and the worship of them.

Epicurean and Stoic philosophers, members of the Court of Areopagus, the judicial body with authority over civil and religious life in Athens, were interested in what Paul had to say.  These men spent most of their time talking about or listening to new ideas and took Paul to a meeting of the Areopagus because he was speaking of things “strange to their ears and they wanted to know what they meant”.

This was the perfect opportunity for Paul to tell them about the one true and sovereign God.  In Athens there was an altar to an “unknown god” so Paul began to tell them about this unknown god, who He is and what He has done.  He told them about the God “who made the world and everything in it…that He gives to all people life and breath and every thing”.  Paul told them God puts each person in the place they need to be when they need to be there “so they would seek God in the hope that they would feel their way toward Him and find Him”.  And he told them “Yet, He is not far from each one of us”.

It is interesting that Paul tells these men, philosophers, who study and ponder, discuss and debate, everything with everyone, that what they are doing is part of a plan, God’s plan.  They are just where they need to be at just the right time so in their searching for answers to life’s questions they will find those answers by finding God.  And he tells them that God is not in some far off place or time but near them.

What Paul said to the men of the Areopagus he says to us today. When we are looking for God going from place to place, teacher to teacher, study to study, discipline to discipline, maybe what we need to do is be still and quiet where we are for a time.

…and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.  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. Acts 17:26b-27 niv

God is everywhere. Not just the desert or mountain top, forest or seaside, classroom or church.  He is where we are all the time.

I wonder at all the time I spent going to places and events  looking for God, when all along He was right there with me…waiting.

Just wondering…

10 thoughts on “Finding God

  1. Hi Patricia. I know you were following my blog and it accidentally got deleted so I’ve had to begin again. Don’t know exactly how it works, but I think I lost contact with most of my followers but your name still remained. Just thought I’d contact you on that!!

    Love your blog! blessings

  2. I would offer that many ancient people did not worship the gods but that they feared their wrath and subsequent misfortune and their efforts were not aimed at worship but to appease them and hope for good fortune in a world filled with such suffering. Sort of to stay on their good side. A meager effort to have some order in a world in which humans had so little ability to control and manage events. Not knowing the true God of our faith, what else could they do? So I do not see their idol worship as evil as they knew not the true God. Certainly Paul was correct in admonishing his contemporaries from wandering away from the faith. I would offer that the Greeks and Romans were too sophisticated to put much stake in the power of idols as did other ancient civilizations. They certainly gave them lip service and the festivals and offerings I think were mere ritual honoring traditions of earlier less intellectual foundations of their societies. I theorize that a Roman’s reference to the god or war or to Ceres the god of the grain/harvest, for example, were expressions of hope for good fortune from the fates not statues or gods. A lot of their theology was based on superstition of course and powers beyond them certainly seemed to control and ordain all aspects of their lives so perhaps for the Romans and Greeks at least, the idols represented an acknowledgement of the inferiority and inability of man to influence the will of the creator expressed in multiple personages. For the Roman aristocrat and patrician class the statues and all were a mere silly aspect of their culture and I think they were dismissive of idols. God was the Roman army, the Roman state and the Roman law. They were really atheists. I have the complete works of Martin Luther who writes a great deal of commentary on the theology of Paul and has improved my understanding of Paul’s teachings. I have given up on reading John Calvin. He is methodical but his work is convoluted and I can’t seem to remember things from one page to the next because the ideas are so complex and intense. Blessings.

    • Carl,

      I think many people today are like the ancients and “worship” God just to be on the safe side or to be politically correct. And perhaps many intellectuals today, like ancient Greece/Rome, are too sophisticated to rely on the power of God and like the ancients think themselves god-like.

      My reading of Acts 17 gave me the impression that Paul was not only distressed over the worship of idols but that people were going from idol to idol looking for all the things that only the one true God can give. He wanted them to understand that there is only one God and the going from idol/god to idol/god, or in other words, looking all around in the far off places that idols seem to dwell trying to find God is useless.

      He wanted them to see that the God they did not know was near to them, not far away. And that they could know Him in an intimate way that was impossible with idols because He is the living Creator of all things and the idols were but things made by man.

      As always your comment has made me “wonder” even more. Thank you.

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