“22 Then Paul stood in the middle of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that you are extremely religious in every respect. 23 For as I was passing through and observing the objects of your worship, I even found an altar on which was inscribed:
TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.
Therefore, what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it—He is Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in shrines made by hands. 25 Neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives everyone life and breath and all things.”
During small group discussion (i.e., Frontline), this passage came up and sparked great conversation. I am afraid that the worship to an “Unknown God” applies even today. This is deeper than it initially appears! The implications are potentially disastrous upon our current Christian culture. How many proclaimed believers actually know and worship the true and all-powerful God? In a metaphorical vision, I look out upon a sea of believers with unchanged faces, darkened hearts, hollowed-eyes, fallen fruits, broken vines, suffocating gifts, and parched missions. I would expect nothing less from those who worship an “Unknown God”. Yet, MY GOD —– IS KNOWN! Faces brighten, hearts enlighten, souls illuminate, praise rebounds, choirs rejoice, people proclaim, fruits abound…and most importantly God’s people get on mission to further His kingdom!
In this passage, Paul’s spirit becomes very troubled by the egregious idol worship in Athens. So Paul did what he knew best – he witnessed! Not only did he witness to those who believed in God in the synagogue, but he also witnessed in the marketplace “every day with those who happened to be there” (v17). First and foremost, why was Paul so passionate? The answer is easy to see – soul on fire; life transformation; eye-opening truth. I yearn for this type of Christian zeal.
It is during a witnessing engagement where Paul encounters the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. Epicureans developed a worldview based around pleasure and happiness while Stoic philosophers promoted rational thinking over emotional thinking. Paul addressed a council that spent all their time telling and learning something new. He makes it very clear that the Athenians were very religious in every respect, but he clearly addresses the heart of their spiritual problem. You see, there was no short of gods to worship. In fact, the Athenians built an idol even to an “Unknown God” just to make sure they didn’t miss anyone. Paul uses this opportunity to proclaim the gospel of the one and only true God! Paul eloquently explains that the “Unknown God” is the One who made the whole universe and does not live in shrines nor needs anything by the works of humans hands. God is near! He exists! Paul continued to deliver his full message where some even believed that day while others ridiculed him.
Where are you in this story? Are you Paul? Do you find zeal and energy in God’s mission? Do you worship the Almighty in all places because you know that He alone is God and He is good? Or are you the people of Athens at this time? Are you worshiping various idols and the “Unknown God?” Do you really know who you are worshiping? I ask you to prayerfully meditate on this passage today. You may be quick to cognitively align with Paul yet your actions are that of the Athenians. Allow the Holy Spirit to search your soul. Our God is known! He is great! He is powerful! He is good! Experience a fulfilled Christian life…your worship, prayer life, Bible study, attitude, mission, encounters, and worldview will forever change! Don’t hold back any longer! Stop, be still, turn around, open your eyes – HE IS KNOWN!
Question: Do you worship an “Unknown God?”