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“But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news” (Romans 10:14-15, New Living Translation)!
They Are Hungry
As a High School Educator, I get the opportunity to see students in every phase of life. Mood swings and all, some days are filled with tears, while others are full of joy, chaos, and mundane moments. There is never a dull moment in teaching, as you can probably imagine.
In my third year of teaching, I have grown to understand some of God’s purposes for placing me in this field. While I still feel called to write full-time and am passionately pursuing that calling, I can also see how He is using me where I am right now. He is slowly chipping away at my initial views to give me His kind of vision.
On a weekly, if not daily basis, I have started to note how many kids ask me about the Bible Study held in my room. I have also mentally been aware of how many ask me about religion, God, Jesus, or the fallenness of humanity. More than ever, the numbers are startling, and I teach at a public school.
It is clear that today’s youth are hungry and searching for something, but most, if we are honest, do not know what they are foraging to find.
You can see it in their eyes.
You can feel it in their hearts.
You can hear it in their questions.
You can perceive it in their striving.
Religious, Not Godly
In Acts chapter 17:16-34, Paul speaks to a group of people very similar to my students.
Visiting Athens along his missionary journey, Paul was aware that the men of Athens were religious and followed idols, but they were not Godly. In response, the Scriptures tell us that while Paul was waiting for Silas and Timothy to join him in his expedition, “he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city” (Acts 17:16b, New Living Translation).
While Paul found what the Athenians believed to be strange and concerning, the men in Athens found Paul’s testimony about Jesus odd and striking. He could not help but share the Good News of Christ with them, and while some believed, others did not.
“He went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and he spoke daily in the public square to all who happened to be there. He also had a debate with some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. When he told them about Jesus and his resurrection, they said, “What’s this babbler trying to say with these strange ideas he’s picked up?” Others said, “He seems to be preaching about some foreign gods” (Acts 17:17-18, New Living Translation).
Today, I think there are far too many people like these Athenians. They spend all their time talking about and listening to the latest ideas of the New Age. They are religious, but they worship an unknown God.
“Then they took him to the high council of the city. “Come and tell us about this new teaching,” they said. “You are saying some rather strange things, and we want to know what it’s all about.” (It should be explained that all the Athenians as well as the foreigners in Athens seemed to spend all their time discussing the latest ideas.) So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about” (Acts 17:19-23, New Living Translation).
Order or Intimate
The word here for religious, is the Greek word deisidaimōn, meaning “revering the gods and divine things; religious, in a bad sense, superstitious,” and often in the New Testament, “careful and precise in the discharge of religious services”.
In the Old Testament, there were daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly festivals that brought much stress and ritual to the people. In regular observance, these duties of the Law brought structure, routine, and order. But in the New Testament, Jesus was fulfilling and fulfilled that Law through the death and resurrection of His body. And this is what Paul wanted the men of Athens to know and understand.
“He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries” (Acts 17:24-26, New Living Translation).
His Name Is Jesus
Paul made an unknown God to the Athenians known to them, and His name both then and now is Jesus. And right here and right now, we are called to do the same.
Because our God is not religious in the sense of ritual and order, but personal and intimate. He desires mercy, not sacrifice (Hosea 6:6). He does not live in temples built by human hands, but He resides in the temples of our hearts.
“His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone. “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:27-31, New Living Translation).
Our God is not served by humanity, for He gives us everything we need. He is not dependant upon us, though we are dependant upon Him.
He is the one guiding and directing our every step.
He is the one asking us to partake in a relationship with Him.
He is not made with silver, gold, or stone, but flesh, soul, and Godly authority with power.
Jesus Christ is the known God, and let us make Him known to those who are hungry, thirsty, and searching.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6, New Living Translation).