There’s a statistic that will shock you; about 75% of people who overly practice Christianity don’t know God. Most of these people grew up in a “religious” environment and carried out the rites as they were told. They never bothered to know why people cried during worship, why people prayed out loud, why people went to church, why people read the Bible; they didn’t bother finding out any of these things and in the long run as a result of use, these practices were engraved into their subconcious that they have become pros in them. The other remnants of the 75% are those who actually cared to know what they were doing and logically deciphered reasons for themselves, they came up with logical illustrations that pleased them and came to their own conclusions. Suffice to say this group of people never come close to finding out who God or the son Jesus – the supposed subject of Christianity – is.
Paul encountered this kind of scenario at some point when he went to Athens – in fact the whole of Greece were very religious people. He saw faithfully religious people, people going to temples, offering sacrifices and whatnot and he was amazed. These guys actually are faithful, they do all these things without grumbling. Meanwhile these festivities were beginning to irk Paul and as he’d have it; he came across a signpost that triggered something in him. The signpost read; “to the God we don’t know” and he couldn’t believe his eyes. You mean these guys do all these things for a God they don’t know? You’ve gotta be kidding me. He didn’t understand how possible that was; what then was their motivation? Now, this happened sometime around the 2nd Century; isn’t it alarming that a “wrong” practice that was vehemently spoken against over 20 centuries ago is dominantly still being practiced in this very age and time. The exact thing the Athenians were practicing is what most “Christians” practice today with the “to an unknown God” signpost already engraved in their psyche. I’m sure I’m not the only one who sees this as appaling. Isn’t it better to conserve your time and resources rather than waste them on a God you don’t know?
Back to our Paul story. The distress in Paul led him to the Areopagus. The Areopagus literally means the “rock of Ares” in the city and was a center of temples, cultural facilities, and a high court. The Areopagus was were the scholars and VIPs gathered. He went to the Areopagus, found a good central position for himself; lifted his hands and called the attention of those around. Note however that Paul was new to Athens and was actually there because he was waiting for Silas so it must have taken lots of gut for Paul to do that. He started speaking – because the situation Paul encountered was very akin to what we have now; I’d urge you to pay close attention to what he said as it still applies to our present predicament nevertheless.
Paul started by “commending” their religious acts and then talked about how they did all these things for a God they didn’t know. He told them he had come to introduce a “known God” to them. He made them understand that the one and only God was very much near and not some kind of phantasm. He was a God that created the human race and everything in the world. He wasn’t a God that sat around and allowed the human race run errands for Him, he wasn’t lifeless like all those idols of stones and sticks they kept around their houses. He was a God that made us humans and put His very own Spirit in us so that communication with Him will become easier. He was the God in whom we existed, the God in whom our whole life revolved. A God constantly yearning for a relationship with His creatures; a God not remote but very near – so near we could feel and hear him. That was all. This is the God we serve, I have decided to speak to you all here, Paul continued, so that you’ll end your ignorance. I have spoken because this is the end of your ignorance and as a result; a radical life-change should follow suit. This God is one who will judge the world at a set time and has already confirmed the Judge by rasing Him up from the dead. That’s the God we serve.
And that was all Paul said. Notice how simple Paul’s definition of God was? The same Paul we all herald, see what God was to him. I’m sure if someone were to describe God in this manner, that person will be brushed aside as an infant – I mean who doesn’t know God created the world or that Jesus died and ressurrected? We all know that right? But do we really believe it? This goes to show you that God isn’t interested in ambivalent or humongous descriptions of Him. He wants you to know him just via the way you have encountered him. Just an encounter/experience is all you need. Nothing less!
Why not try to find out God for yourself rather continue to soak yourself up in the murky waters of religion that will reap no rewards at the end? Until you find out who God is for yourself – worshipping in spirit and in truth – you can never really say you’ve gotten hold of the real message of Christianity. I’m not here to give you some laid down rules of finding God for yourself, Paul already did that. We can now see why Paul’s sermon at Athens was one of him most detailed – he tackled a foundational problem. What I have done rather is stir up your heart and make you think, make you wonder and see if you aren’t tired of religion yourself. I hope the realization of the truth spurs you into wanting to know this God for yourself and as Paul already said – “This God is near, not remote” – you can believe that when you come in sincerity and purity of heart and intentions; you’d find God and have for yourself an encounter.
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