Friday, May 25, 2012

Acts 17:22-28

Summary retelling of Acts 17:22-28

Paul begins to address the people who had gathered in the square to listen to him.  He begins with a two-sided compliment and calls them religious.  Then he begins to teach.  While going through Athens, he saw a statue that he now uses in his instruction.  The statue was to an “unknown” god.  Paul tells them about the God of the Hebrew people – although remember there were Jews among them – and tells them that the one true God does not live in temples made by men.  Then Paul says that God made mankind so that they should seek Him out.

Thoughts for Today
First Thought:
Yes, the people of Athens were religious – they accepted almost any god into their community.  However, as I mentioned yesterday they were not particularly devout to any of them.  They could think in religious terms, but they seldom thought it necessary to devote their life incredibly deeply to any of them.  In many ways this is not far from how we use the word religious in today’s culture.  I can be very religious (attend worship every Sunday, confess there is a God, pray before every meal, go through all the rites and traditions, etc) without actually being spiritual (letting God change and direct my life so that I conform to Him).

Is there anything inherently wrong with being religious in the way we think of the word religious today?  Can being religious get in the way of being spiritual?  How can we structure our minds, our thoughts, and our behaviors so that we can be religious and spiritual at the same time?

Second Thought:
The Athenians have a statue to an “unknown” god.  In some respects, this is very multi-cultural and open-minded of them.  In other respects, this is very politically correct.  But it also shows their cultural understanding of not having to be devoted to any particular god all that deeply.  After all, when a person is totally devoted to one god and they have given their life to that god, what need do they have of any “unknown” gods?  The only people who care about “unknown” gods are the people that are not genuinely devoted to any particular god.

How can we see this dynamic in our modern world and our lives?  Is it easier to be devoted to many things when we aren’t particularly devoted to any one thing?  What does this have to say for people who genuinely want to be devoted to God?

Third Thought:
Part of Paul’s education of the Athenian Jews is telling them that they should be seeking out the true God.  This is a really important teaching for a people who desire a broad understanding of a bunch of shallow topics.  What Paul is saying to them is that it is better to seek out genuine depth and take one topic as far as it can go than it is to understand a little bit of everything.  Rather than trying to know every god, they should be trying to know the one true God.

How concerned about knowing God deeply are you?  Why do you think some people don’t actually want to know God on a very deep level?

Passage for Tomorrow: Acts 17:29-31
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