Text: Acts 17:1-34, Zechariah 12:10, Romans 3:21-26
I’ve read Acts many times before, but something changed for me as I was preparing to write this. The She Reads Team suggested that, in addition to reading through the whole book of Acts, we might want to listen through the whole book as well. (There are tons of free ways to do this online. Try it!) I’d never thought to do it before, but it was remarkable.
As I simply listened to the story Paul was so adamant in telling—of his conversion, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, and the crazy beautiful way God brought Jews and Gentiles together with the gospel of good news—I was transported from my own story and swept up into God’s. And like Paul, it made me want to share the gospel.
In Acts 17, we see that Paul continues to look for any opportunity to share the gospel of the resurrected Jesus. But while in Athens, he is greatly troubled to find that the city is full of idols.
“…as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.”
I had to press pause on my phone. The phrase, “I looked carefully at your objects of worship” echoed in my heart.
I don’t have images in silver or gold placed throughout my house that I treat as idols, but I was so convicted as Paul spoke about worshiping an unknown god. I thought about how many things I’ve tried to replace the love of God with in my life, and I began to ask the Lord if there were currently any unknown gods I’ve been worshiping.
That’s where it began… a “re-ordering of the loves” in my heart, as Augustine called it. As of late, I’ve been searching for my worth in the way that I perform as a mom, as a daughter, and as a friend. I measure how much I matter by what other people think about me or by how they respond to me. And once again, I am so deeply convicted of ascribing more worth to what others think of me than to what God thinks of me—of what He has done for me.
I feel it deep in my bones, the discontent that comes when I look to anything other than Jesus for my identity and happiness. Tim Keller says it like this: “Disordered love always leads to misery and breakdown. The only way to reorder our loves is to love God supremely.” Loving Him first is the only way (John 14:6).
Paul goes on to proclaim to the Athenians the beautiful truth about our God:
He “made the world and everything in it” (v. 24).
He “gives everyone life and breath and all things” (v. 25).
“He is not far from each one of us,” for it’s in Him that we live (v. 27-28).
He counts us as His children (v. 29).
This is the God Paul points us to. May we learn to love Him supremely and find sweet satisfaction in His grace.
Father, forgive us for worshiping false, even unknown, gods. By Your grace, please reveal them to us. Help us to shift our gaze from all the lesser loves to You, the One true lover of our souls. By your mercy, re-order our hearts as You see fit, and teach us to worship You alone. Amen.