"God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'" (NIV)
Reflection by Kenneth L. Samuel
According to Luke's narration in the book of Acts, the Athenians of the first century were quite religious. Athens was the center of a great diversity of faith traditions, religious edifices and theological discussions. Into this mix of philosophical contrasts steps the Apostle Paul with a deep conviction centered on Christ. In the presentation and promotion of his gospel, Paul does not make the mistake of denouncing and dismissing the faith and faith practices of others. Instead, he invites his philosophically diverse audience to get to know the God who is already in them.
According to Paul, the God that their magnificent edifices were erected to invite; the God that their religious practices attempted to impress; the God that their philosophical debates attempted to reveal, was the same God of their very own DNA. The Mysterium Tremendum - The Overwhelming Mystery - The Divine Other – The Unknown and Unknowable God - was, and had always been, as close to them as their own breath, their own family and their own culture. In a real sense, getting to know the God of Christ Jesus was like getting reacquainted with the passions that shaped and drove their own lives.
The dimensions of outer space beyond our immediate grasp are easier to navigate than the inner dimensions of heart and mind that live within us every day. It's easier to explore the unknown than it is to re-examine the inner dimensions of life toward which we have become so complacent. Mis-education is much harder to overcome than ignorance. Intimacy is much more daunting than infinity. What else could explain the deep enmity between brothers and sisters or the drastic dysfunctions and disparities between close neighbors or the conflicted idiosyncrasies that function within any given mindset?
Back in the 60's, Sly and the Family Stone intoned: "I want to thank you, for letting me, be myself, again!" I think that song makes for a great Christian anthem.
Dear God, help us not to miss the universe that you have made us in our quests for universes beyond us. Let us find ourselves and let us find one another in our oneness with you. Amen.
About the Author
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.