Understanding Acts | To An Unknown God | Acts 17.22-23 | Movementministriesblog.com

by | Mar 3, 2023

“Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.” Acts 17.22-23

I have a neighbor who is very sweet. She is older, has lived a long time, but still seeking out her faith and an understanding of God. How do I know? Because she showed me. In the back of her house is a “prayer garden,” and in that garden is represented one statue or idol from almost every known major religion. She has something form Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Catholicism and Christianity, and probably a few others I could not even identify. She says that she feels closed to “God” when she is in her garden.

I have no doubt she feels close to God but I’m not sure which God is reciprocating that feeling. I know that Jesus/Yahweh (the God of the Bible whom we serve) is certainly reaching out to her, drawing her to himself. But what about the other false gods which has littered her garden? Can Jesus be worshipped as one among many? Will a four-armed blue Hindu god-statue make room for the Christ to be glorified? The God of the Bible is a jealous God as recorded in Exodus, “You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exod. 20:4-6).

This neighbor is what we might consider lost in her relationship with Christ. She is seeking “god” but is doing so in the wrong way. Which is similar to those living in Athens with all kinds of idols and religious statues and even the one Paul brings to their attention as an altar “to an unknown god.” As we will see in the later verses in Acts 17, Paul makes what is unknown known in the person of Jesus Christ. He helps the lost become found, those who are uncertain as to whom they are worshipping to discover faith in him.

As I look around our world, we too worship many false idols. An idol is anything that might replace our love for God. This of course can be objects like money, sex, drugs, fame, power, but can also be trying to gain significance from social media, work or others. Our worth comes from Christ alone. Our significance is based on what Jesus has done for us upon the Cross by suffering, dying and rising again. He paved the way for us to become one with God through the Spirit.

As Jesus says in Matthew 7.13, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.“

Find life in Jesus. Let every other distraction fall away and put your hope in him.

“O Lord God, you are so faithful. When I lose my way, when I fall into sin, when I become down, you deliver me. When I fail, you remain steadfast. Come now, Holy Spirit, fall upon your people. Bring an outpouring of your Spirit to this world that we might be delivered and made whole. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen