Theme: “True Worship”
Bible reading: Acts 17: 22-31
Greetings in the name of the God who made the world and everything in it; and is the Lord of heaven and earth. For in Him we live and move and have our being because we are his offspring.
I know most of us have been following the day-to-day events in our parliament where big issues are being discussed with great amusement. This seems to suggest that being a member of parliament involves a great sense of comic and humour and a lot of patience. They spend the whole day debating very delicate issues such as “Should we go for hard or soft Brexit?” “Should we pay self-employed people during the lockdown or not?” A debate then ensues in the House of Commons or House of Lords and MPs or Members of the House of Lords take turns to speak and amuse each other and the general public. I have a friend in the United States who told me he enjoys watching Prime Minister’s time than any programme on television because of how debates are conducted in a comedy-like style.
Well, my purpose today is not to bash our honourable parliamentarians, but to let you know that this is the nature of politicians everywhere in the world and they have been this way from biblical times. They do a lot of talking with very little action.
The setting for today’s Bible reading is Athens in Greece. The Apostle Paul arrived in the town centre, preaching a new and radical religion to the common people who actually didn’t know what he was talking about. Some seemed to have liked what he was saying, whiles others violently disagreed with him. And when they got fed up with his utterances, they said to one another, probably we should take this strange preacher to the City Council meeting because, as the Houses of parliament, that is where the hot debates go on and the spectators with itching ears love to spend their time hearing about the latest news in town.
And they brought Paul to a place called The Areopagus, which is a small hill just beneath the Acropolis of Athens. All the brilliant and vocal people of the city assembled there, and Paul was given the opportunity to debate with them.
As a brilliant pharisaic lawyer, philosopher, and crafty politician, Paul started on a very positive note by amusing his large and learned audience with great compliments for something that was actually distasteful to me. He began this way, Athenians, I see that…you are very religious and devoted to worship (17: 22). Paul said this based on the number of shrinesfor worship or statues of gods that he has seen in the town with one specifically dedicated to an unknown god.
By beginning in this positive way, Paul won the trust of his audience and gain a hearing for the rest of the gospel he had to preach or declare to them.
Paul took advantage of the unknown god and proclaimed Christ and declared the gospel truth about the creator God who sustains the universe to his listeners. “Athenians, what you worship as an unknown god, I tell you this is the God who created you and everything else in the world. But He doesn’t live in shrines or temples or gold statues. He is everywhere! And He desires that we seek Him while he may be found (17:27 / Isaiah 55:6). And the altar dedicated by the Athenians to the unknown god is evidence of this desire to seek God.
People throughout history have searched for God in different things. And like the Athenians, I know many of us, even in the church today continue searching for God in different things including books, philosophies, and other cosmic things.
But the news is that God is right here in our midst; He is not far from us, He is everywhere; He is in our heart; God is love. And so when we love one another; then we are showing that God dwells in us and we are His children. The apostle John admonishes us to love one another, for love comes from God. And everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. He goes on to say that love is light, and those who do not love still live in the night (1 John 4).
As Paul announced God’s command to the Athenians to repent from the sin of idolatry, God is calling us also to repent from any sin of idolatry and hatred for one another.
I pray that God will continue to keep us alert to stand firm in the faith. And may everything that we do be done in love. For this is the true worship of God!
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the sweet fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all now, this day, and always!
Rev. Confidence Bansah (Ph. D.)
Minister of St. George’s and Christ Church