When Paul was in Athens, waiting for Silas and Timothy to join him, he was disturbed to see the city full of idols. He talked to the Jews and God-fearing Greeks in the synagogue and to the people in the marketplace, discussing with them idols and the worship of them.
Epicurean and Stoic philosophers, members of the Court of Areopagus, the judicial body with authority over civil and religious life in Athens, were interested in what Paul had to say. These men spent most of their time talking about or listening to new ideas and took Paul to a meeting of the Areopagus because he was speaking of things “strange to their ears and they wanted to know what they meant”.
This was the perfect opportunity for Paul to tell them about the one true and sovereign God. In Athens there was an altar to an “unknown god” so Paul began to tell them about this unknown god, who He is and what He has done. He told them about the God “who made the world and everything in it…that He gives to all people life and breath and every thing”. Paul told them God puts each person in the place they need to be when they need to be there “so they would seek God in the hope that they would feel their way toward Him and find Him”. And he told them “Yet, He is not far from each one of us”.
It is interesting that Paul tells these men, philosophers, who study and ponder, discuss and debate, everything with everyone, that what they are doing is part of a plan, God’s plan. They are just where they need to be at just the right time so in their searching for answers to life’s questions they will find those answers by finding God. And he tells them that God is not in some far off place or time but near them.
What Paul said to the men of the Areopagus he says to us today. When we are looking for God going from place to place, teacher to teacher, study to study, discipline to discipline, maybe what we need to do is be still and quiet where we are for a time.
…and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. Acts 17:26b-27 niv
God is everywhere. Not just the desert or mountain top, forest or seaside, classroom or church. He is where we are all the time.
I wonder at all the time I spent going to places and events looking for God, when all along He was right there with me…waiting.