“Proclaiming The Unknown God”
August 3, 2016
Note: Due to family travel we are not podcasting this week. This morning we leave Wisconsin and head toward home.
“Then Paul stood up on Mars’ Hill and said, “Men of Athens, I see how very religious you are in every way’. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you” (Acts 17:22).
Here in America church naming has changed drastically in my lifetime. Churches used to bear their denominational name perhaps preceded by a locator such as Mount Joy Mennonite or a Bible word or theological concept such as Grace, Faith, Calvary, etc. However when you use a Bible word it’s important to know what it means. Years ago I heard of a church that sought to be creative and used an interesting sounding Hebrew word from the Old Testament, naming their church “Ichabod”. (look that up)
Now it seems like most new churches seek to have trendy names such as Catalyst, Activate, VIBE and many others. In fact there is a site with “119 cool church names”. Now some just use acronyms, sort of like large corporations (ATT, IBM, GE) such as a large church in our area known simply as LCBC. It took us awhile to find out that LCBC stood for Lives Changed by Christ.
I heard missionaries Mike and Lori Cassel talk about a church in Mexico with an interesting name. The Spanish name is “Al Dios No Conocido” which means “The Unknown God” Church. The earnest Mexican pastor was naming it after our daily text and Mike shared that he had some reservations about the name but didn’t want to interfere with the nationals. It occurred to me a name like this can create a compelling witness opportunity!
Way up into Maine, far farther than most people ever venture, is sprawling Aroostook County. Along US 1 there is a small town called Mars Hill named for Hezekiah Mars, who camped for three years at the base of what is now Mars Hill Mountain. About twenty years ago a friend let us stay there in his vacation home for several days. It’s a rather remote area with not a lot to do. Interestingly, it’s an agricultural area with lots of potatoes and kind of a Bible Belt area, unusual for New England at this point of its history. But I find the name interesting due to a rather obscure reference in the Bible where we also read of a “Mars Hill” (KJV) which is translated “Areopagus” in most modern versions.
In Acts 17 Paul preached to the Athenians, the intellectually elite of that age. An interesting parenthetical description in verse 21 states, “Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.” (SCW commentary: It seems to me that’s what a lot of “intellectual elites” do to this day!)
Paul sought to connect by appealing to an altar with this inscription, “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.” Apparently the Athenians just wanted to make sure they had all the bases covered so they erected a generic altar for a god they didn’t know just in case. Paul used the situation to his advantage and proclaimed this “unknown” God in one of the great sermons of the New Testament, “Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.”
The Mexican church with the name “The Unknown God” may very well use this same approach. People enter the church building intrigued by the name and hear the pastor make known the mystery of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
Today we appeal to a world where so many do not know Jesus personally. Yet God created within our inmost being the need to follow after One greater than ourselves. Of course He desires that we worship Him not in ignorance, but in Spirit and in Truth. And the way we follow the True God is to open His Word to our hearts making it a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we thank You for those who go to the uttermost parts of the world and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, making known the “unknown God” to the people of that land. From the very beginning You created a hunger within our hearts to serve you, but far too many misfeed that hunger and instead “worship gold, silver or stone, images from the art and thoughts of man”. Instead we choose to feed that hunger by loving You with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. As we draw near to You, You promise to draw near to us. We are grateful for the wooing of the Holy Spirit that convicts us our sin and reveals Your great love to us. Thank You for making Yourself known to us in Your Word, in nature, in our spirit, and in the experiences of everyday life. We will come to know You in greater depth as we immerse ourselves in the Holy Bible where we read of Your great love and the sacrifice You made in sending to us You Son, Jesus, who died for our sins. Amen.
We saw many mansions along the shore of Geneva Lake yesterday on a boat tour around the lake yesterday.
Nineteen of us enjoyed a two mile walk around the lake though it goes for 21 miles. The flowers and vibrant vegetation adorn the beautiful walkway below the elaborate landscapes of beautiful homes and mansions that surround Geneva Lake. Pictured is my cousin, Jane with her husband Tom, who live in Colorado.
“You Are God Alone” Video Phillips, Craig, & Dean
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