Friday, July 20, 2012Scripture Reading—Acts 17:16-31
Luke presents Paul as an erudite philosopher arguing the great profundities of life on the Aeropagus with other learned people in Athens. Paul tries to find points of contact between his message and the ethos of the great city of education and learning. He notes the religious interest and spirit of the people of the city indicated by the presence of images of various deities. He notes an inscription, “To an unknown God,” and takes as his assignment revealing to his interlocutors the nature of this one they acknowledge exists, but know neither its name or nature. Like Paul’s other missionary proclamations in Acts, he has mixed results. A few are persuaded by Paul’s message. Some are intrigued. Many are indifferent. Early in this passage, we learn that Paul was deeply distressed to see that the city was full of idols. At the heart of Paul’s message was the announcement that there is only one God, and all of us owe our being to this God. There is nothing else worthy of our ultimate loyalty and allegiance. This is at the heart of our proclamation to people in our time, regardless of how intelligent or simple, how educated or unlettered—there is only one God. There is only one loyalty worthy of our complete devotion. Anything else is idolatry. Anything else is fleeting, temporary, ultimately unsatisfying. There are so many manifestations of our loyalty to goals, causes, and purposes other than the one true God—the brokenness of our lives, failed relationships, violence, injustice, and almost everything that robs people of life, joy, and peace. Paul’s invitation may have sounded harsh, demanding, and exclusive. But in fact, it was an offer of life—life grounded in the realization that only the one who is eternal can satisfy our infinite longing for acceptance, peace, security, and joy. Indeed, this force in whom we live and move and have our being, is the one who would not let death and evil have the last word but overcame them all by raising Jesus from the dead. That is the gift, the hope, and the message offered to us—and the message we have to offer the world!
Thought for the day: True freedom, joy, and peace is found by recognizing that life is at its best when lived in relationship with the one from whom we come, in whom we live, and to whom we will return!
Prayer: O God, there are so many things in the world calling for my attention, loyalty, commitment, and allegiance. Help me to quiet all the other voices calling to me that I me hear your voice and receive your invitation to find life in you, the one who is the author and sustainer of life itself. Amen.