As I read the history of the first-century church in the book of Acts and see the world today, I am amazed at how similar they are. In Acts 17:16-31 we read of Paul’s confrontation with the world of his day. The affluent people in Athens “spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas” (verse 21). That is such an accurate description of the world we live in today. Like the Athenians, the affluent world around us ignores the pain and poverty of their fellow humans. Instead, they spend their time talking about the latest ideas and wanting to hear something new.
Acts 17:20 tells us that the Athenians were searching for meaning in life and because Paul brought “strange ideas to our ears and we would like to know what they mean,” they were willing to give Paul a hearing. Paul responded by telling them that he observed they were religious, but they were ignorantly worshipping something which they called “the unknown God.”
The Athenians centered their worship around appeasing their gods. Skilled artisans constructed beautiful gold, silver, and stone images to please the gods and goddesses. Today we have many people who center their worship of God around shrines, temples, huge crosses, and elaborate religious services.
All of this is ignorant worship. We do not worship God because he needs our worship. We are called too worship God for our own well-being. Worship helps us to build unity, to focus on a power higher than ourselves, to motivate us to service, and to encourage us to focus on the things we need inn our lives to sustain us. We need the fellowship and encouragement of fellow Christians, and when we forsake services, we only hurt ourselves. Hebrews 10:25 tells us we need worship. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.”
There is but one God and He is worthy of our worship. This article will be continued next week when I will discuss the Athenians failure to understand that God is the Creator.