There’s a plethora of blogs out there about blogging and writing. Since I’m having a book published and I have the whole blog thing going on, I try to read up on some of the tips offered. It seems that so many of the websites are filled with people selling eBooks that hold the 6 secrets you need to write a bestseller. Or, if I just spend $3.99, I can instantly download the 3 things that are keeping my blog from reaching the tens of thousands of people who need to be reading it.
They also offer some related articles on their blogs. Apparently, I’m terribly bad at the hustle. I haven’t been very good about scattering my seed all over Twitter or even setting up a Housewife Theologian Facebook page to then ask people to “like”. But that’s only the beginning. One of the key ways to draw people to your site, I’m told, is to make the title, or the tweet’s “sell” give a sense to the reader that they are missing out on something. That’s it—appeal to the collective fear that you are not down with the latest.
We’re all chasing the new, that one more thing that we might be missing. Some will camp out over night in line to be the first with the latest. We check our status updates and news tickers to be the first to hear who said what and why what so-and-so says about it is so important.
This is what I was thinking about as our Sunday school class was reading and discussing Acts 17:16-32, where Paul addresses the Areopagus. The men of Athens were also eager to hear this new doctrine that Paul was babbling about in the synagogue and marketplace. Paul astutely notices the trend, and even appeals to it. He notices the fear that the Athenians had of neglecting to appease a god they might not know. Paul, in what seems to be an almost mocking tone, affirms to them that they are a very religious people. And look at that, they even have an altar TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. The council at Mars Hill wanted to make sure they had all their bases covered. They did not want to be missing out on the latest. There was always going to be the “one more thing” that might be worthy of worship.
It seems ironic to us that the supposed knowledge capitol of the ancient world would be so wrapped up in appeasing gods of every area of life, especially with these superfluous altars. My own logic laughs at a god with a lowercase “g”. If you were a god, then you would need to be God—sovereign, over everything, not just god over fertility, or leisure, money, or science. These supposed deities of the Greek pantheon sound pretty weak and unworthy of worship.
Well that is exactly what Paul points out as he endeavors to tell the men of the council not about “one more thing”, as their extra alter might suggest, but about “the only thing”, the one true God. Of course, there is so much to glean from these verses about how Paul uses general revelation and quotes from their own poets to evangelize these sophisticated pagans. Most of them are disappointed to hear that Paul isn’t introducing a new god, but the God of old who makes all things new.
Things got uncomfortable when Paul moved to the crux of his argument. As he cleverly laid the foundation of the one true God, he then moves to the resurrection question that they asked him about. This is a repugnant doctrine to the Greeks. Most of them had heard enough, and he was cut off. But a few did believe.
I think that so often, even as believers, we fall into this insatiable desire to hear the new. We must appease the latest news god. Clever marketing has caught on to our proclivities and has enhanced them. They tell us what we are to desire. Paul also honed in on this tendency, but he didn’t sell what the Athenians really wanted to hear. Most of them wanted to stick with the lowercase gods.
Since our God of old is the uppercase God, there are always new attributes that we will discover about him. We don’t need a bazillion little “g’s” to satisfy our longing to learn and worship. Since he is God, we will spend eternity getting to know him without ever exhausting our knowledge. It’s both exciting and humbling to learn more about our God. He isn’t manageable. He isn’t appeased by our own creative ideas to worship. There is only one way to approach God and that is by grace. In case you missed out, the Messiah has come. Jesus Christ has fulfilled all righteousness and propitiated God’s wrath for our sin. It is finished.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:28-29).