Paul arrived at the Athens spiritually, physically and emotionally exhausted after confronting the spirituality and bad behaviour of the churches of Thesalonica and Berea in Northern Greece
So he came away to spend
some time with Silas and Timothy
And as he waited them to arrive, a bit like us when we go somewhere new and need to find our directions learn where we are, what the culture of the place is, it seemed Paul had a tour of the area by some locals took him on a trip around the area and part of that trip was to the Areopagus. The Areopagus is solid marble and literally means rock, its a big mount of stone.
And on that mount of stone, Paul begins to talk of what he has seen as he’s been shown round, he hasn't got the capacity for another conflict he’s exhausted, but his work is to teach about Jesus, Paul lived fully the sending out of Jesus
“Go into the world and make disciples of every nation.”
So even in his tiredness Paul comments on what he as a guest has seen “As I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription “”To an unknown god.. “” and then he begins to teach he doesn't say you're wrong I'm right…
He said I found among them an altar with the inscription, “To an unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. Paul teaches right from the beginning of all he knows of God, God who created all things God in all things
And he tells them the God they don't know the Unknown God, The God of Abraham ....right down to Jesus who came to live among us was crucified died and was resurrected on the third day.
That God of heaven, creator God, chose to leave his kingdom in heaven. The heavenly realms where all creation was spoken into being, where all creation is being restored and renewed where sickness, sorrow, sadness, pain and death are no more…
God chose to leave that space to come among us as Jesus, and bring his kingdom here to earth, showing us how to live as though the kingdom were fully here among us.. Jesus taught us that we are to love God and lovingly care for each other as we are loved and cared for by God.
Jesus assures us that the kingdom of heaven will come fully on earth when he returns, but until that time we are not alone, we live in the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of the indivisible God within us. When we submit to his will and not our own.. that presence has a transformative power, power to change lives and power to enable lives to be lived in ways which give life new life.
A new understanding to those who accept the truth of the death and resurrection of Jesus. And just as the people who heard Paul speak truth into a culture of idol worshiping we too need to look again at what idols we put in front of that truth..
What do we put before God
and his kingdom reigning within us?Who do we put before God
being first in our lives?
Is it our husbands, our wives, our children, parents, brothers, sisters, friends? Our work, our fun, our play, our social activities, our treasures do we put all these before God.
This is how the world has become secular, this is how we have become divided, we are called to gather as a church community as people of faith, then to go out, go out and spread the good news spread the gospel
It doesn't mean not spending time with those we love and care for, it means spending time with them in the power of who we are as followers of Jesus, as disciples - and disciples never ever stop learning afresh what the teacher is doing.. So just as the people who met at the Areopagus learned that it is only in God that that we have our being and our live, that idols are just that they are things which take us away from God, idols are temptations and fancies, they are not things within which we have our being and our life. Even our families, we can love better when we know how to love and receive the love of God as his children …his offspring. And as his children, turn again, turn to him, the time had come for repentance, for stepping away from all idols, repent of putting our own desires above the ways of God
There is no escaping …. we
must repent for putting others before
God, other people, other desires. other plans other things that are not
what God is calling.
We too must put down our unknowing and find him anew, find him afresh, so that our hearts just as the hearts of those listening to Jesus our hearts can be touched and changed by the heart of who God is and experience his Kingdom on earth…
The Greeks were converted by the truths Paul told and those truths, the hearts changing, had an impact on the lives and culture and those changes of all who lived in the area a nd spread into all the earth.
What I know is that if we are serious about who we are as Jesus shaped people ..as disciples. If we recognise and acknowledge Jesus is Lord over all thing, Sovereign over all, there is no escape from his reign, everything.. everything we know is under his authority
Our church, us .. how we behave, Our schools, how we meet with the staff, parents and children, Our workplace, Our cars and how we drive and acknowledge others, Our streets, Our neighbours, Our friends, Our Drs, Our care homes, Our hospitals. And if that is true ..If the truth is that Jesus is Lord over all things all places, we have to ask ourselves "what would that space …. Those places be like if we let him reign and rule?
Once again we are called to !re-imagine everything we are involved in, we have to look again at how we welcome. Do we have a welcome sign? and if we do, do we welcome in the name of Jesus, in the shape of Jesus ?
All of our churches offer refreshments, hospitality, God calls us to welcome all in his name, As Jesus people, we have to be prominent be seen, I am asking you all to step up, Step up in grace, step up and be prominent be seen, dare to share who you are as a person of faith as the song says… “Will you go where you don't know and never be afraid.”
Stopping our own control, stopping our own desires can be scary because God takes us to places where we don't know we are going, but when we follow where we are called act as we are invited, when we don't hold on to our prejudices, we show how the Kingdom of God can be, yet when we continue not to do those things, we show how idol worship is..
So my question this week is, are you willing to repent of the times you have chosen a pagan way of being a time when you have worshiped other God’s put other people … other situations other desires before the people, before the will and desires of God?
Are you willing to speak truth into situations not your truth, the truth you make fit your will but the truth of God who in Jesus came as a light to our world, who brought visions of what the Kingdom of God can be not just in heaven but here on earth.
Are you willing to live
Are you willing to love God above all loves?
Are you willing to let our Lord reveal himself in you, not just when it suits you, but at all times, even times of exhaustion, even times of frustration, even times of joy
Are you willing to keep
the commandments of Jesus and live as though the
kingdom of God is among you? Just as Paul did as he met
those who knew nothing of our Lord are you willing to share the good news by
thought word and deed at all times not
just when you feel “nice “ or feel “ like it. ”
Are you willing to put down religion and have faith, faith that God will reveal himself in you when you let him reign in your life.