A New Starting Place

I find the following passage of Scripture profound in revelation…

Acts 27:22-31 reads,

     So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.

     “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’

     “Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

He is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In Him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed His offspring.’

     This passage is incredible. It sounds starkly different from the way the Gospel is communicated today.

     Notice that Paul does not call his hearers to apologize for their sins in order to attain a relationship with God. Notice he does not start from a place of saying God is distant, needing to be appeased before He will draw near. Paul does not speak to this prebelievers as outsiders waiting to be given the gift of acceptance. He speaks to them as if they already belong in the family of God. It seems they already have His sustaining presence fueling their lives.

     They simply need to repent (i.e. change their idea about the nature of God) and trust in the One who was raised from the dead on their behalf.

     This reminds me of Psalm 82:6, which says, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you.” This was a verse Jesus quoted to defend His own divinity (John 10:34-36). It suggests that we are all numbered among God’s children.

     Modern preaching often presents Jesus as being the “bridge” to God — the One who can help us cross a big divide and get back into a place of nearness with the Lord. The truth is Jesus is God Himself, and He proved through His incarnation, death and resurrection that He is willing to dwell among us and fight for our well-being whether welcome Him to or not.

     Christ demonstrated that God is never withdrawn from us. He loves to befriend even the most sinful of humans.

     If we want to really help others wake up to see God for who Jesus revealed Him to be, we must stop offering a narrative that begins with separation from the Divine. Further, we must reveal to our brothers and sisters their truest identity, which has been unchanging from the creation of the world.

     We are God’s offspring. Our life is and always has been found in Him.

     As we preach the Good News to the lost, let this revelation be our new starting place.

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