By Christin Ditchfield Lazo
A Reading from Acts 17:16-34
16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he argued in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons and also in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18 Also some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers debated with him. Some said, “What does this pretentious babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign divinities.” (This was because he was telling the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.) 19 So they took him and brought him to the Areopagus and asked him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 It sounds rather strange to us, so we would like to know what it means.” 21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners living there would spend their time in nothing but telling or hearing something new.
22 Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely spiritual you are in every way. 23 For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. 26 From one ancestor he made all peoples to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, 27 so that they would search for God and perhaps fumble about for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. 28 For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said,
‘For we, too, are his offspring.’
29 “Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. 30 While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
32 When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some scoffed, but others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33 At that point Paul left them. 34 But some of them joined him and became believers, including Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.
Sometimes we get so focused on our daily to-do lists, so busy running errands, paying bills, answering emails, attending meetings and appointments — or … binge watching our favorite shows, playing games, and shopping and surfing and scrolling through endless content on our phones.
Like that’s what life is all about.
Like clearing off our desk or schedule or clearing out our inbox — or crashing after our attempts to do so — is the goal of our existence. So we’re just keeping our heads down, putting one foot in front of the other, getting it done (some days more than others).
But Paul’s rousing sermon to the people in Athens in today’s reading is a wake-up call — a reminder to look up:
The incredible, magnificent, awesome, almighty God of the universe created us and called us. He invites us to come to know him — to be in relationship with him. It’s in him that “we live and move and have our being.”
There is a much greater purpose for our existence. There is a greater life — a deeper, more meaningful and significant life — a glorious and eternal life — in store for us!
No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, never so much as imagined anything quite like it — what God has arranged for those who love him. But you’ve seen and heard it because God by his Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you. The Spirit, not content to flit around on the surface, dives into the depths of God, and brings out what God planned all along. (1 Cor. 2:9-13, MSG)
May he lift our heads and open our eyes today — and help us to fulfill his great plans and purposes for us.
Christin Ditchfield Lazo, M.A. (Bible and Theology), is a best-selling author, conference speaker, and syndicated radio host, passionate about calling believers to a deeper life of faith.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Morogoro – The Anglican Church of Tanzania
Christ Church, Cooperstown, N.Y.