Who Are You?
- First meeting: name, home, occupation? Titles that set you apart from others.
- Go a little deeper: Something about your backgound, education. Give some idea of experiences that shaped you.
- Who are you really-need to go deeper. What is your character? Attributes?
These may be the kinds of questions people of Athens were asking in Acts 17.
Paul in Athens
Athenians-religious background. "Unknown God"-covering all the bases.
- Paul says, "I know this God. Let me tell you about Him."
- Not looking for just his name...wanted to really know Him...how to please...how to interact with Him.
How do we answer that question?
- Who is God? Ever really asked?
- It is important to ask and challenge ourselves: there is a truth about Who God is. We will interact with Him best the closer our understanding of Him is to truth. Our lives will benefit most from truly understanding Him.
- Culture doesn't give a clear answer. Many ways people answer worldwide, our culture says it's all the say.
- Impt distinction: God reveals himself to all men (Rom 1:20) As a result you can find glimpses of God in just about all cultures and religious pratices. This does not mean that all religions are established and endorsed by God. Not everything is based in truth and they are certainly not all the same. Doesn't make sense.
- Consider some of the possibile answers provided by our world:
- consider Greek gods-selfish, quarreling, drunkards. competing for power and attention, not really caring about humans. Is that what God is like? Jealous? Selfish kind of jealousy like us?
- We recognize good and bad in the world. What is their relationship? Are they equal? Ying/Yang...is one more powerful than the other? Do we have any certainty that good will ultimately win out over evil?
- Is God a former human being who reached a certain level of self-realization...or became worthy of worship because he escaped a cycle of reincarnation by living a perfect enough life to rid his soul of bad karma?
- Speaking of Karma...is that what God really is? Is God really just something that accumulates upon our souls as the result of choices we make...stuff that blocks us from really achieving a pure understanding of ourselves?
- Is God separate from nature at all? Or is he part of it...flowing through it...some sort of cosmic force? Part of a divine Oneness that we are all connected to and part of.
- Did He create this world? Or did it just happen and He is somehow part of it? And if so, does he have anything to do with the world today. Is He necessary to sustain creation...or does he jsut sit back, watch and cast judgement upon us?
- Is God vindictive and angry? Is He so fed up with us that he angrily punishes us when we sin? Does He expect us to punish others who anger Him? Does He expect us to pursue peace and harmony with all people?
- Does He expect certain prayers, rituals or actions or follow certain rules in order to appease him? Are we supposed to adorn ourselves with certain symbols or clothing to show our devotion or attain His protection?
- Can we even know God at all? Is He so far beyond us and out of our reach that we can never hope to know Him?
Who is this God we come here to worship...to show our devotion to. Who is this that we are expected to trust our lives to? How can we do that unless we really know who He is?
Some of these possible traits probably sounded pretty weird and you quickly decided, "That's not true." For some you may have thought, "That's true". I just have a couple of questions for you to consider
- Are you sure? How do you know whether those are true or not?
- Also, are you sure you haven't incorporated some small aspect of those beliefs into your image of God as our popular culture has worked to try to make all these beliefs acceptable?
Who is God? Need to challenge ourselves...see what the Bible says about God and how He does actually reveal himself to us.
- It matters so that we can have a clear understanding of God and not be trying to incorporate some conflicting beliefs
- It matters because the closer our understanding is to the truth, the better off our lives will be
- It matters because the world is becoming a much smaller place...we are interacting with more and more people and cultures from around the world with a variety of ideas about who God is, and unless we've asked the question and really found some solid answers we can depend upon, we may not know how to respond when someone challenges us.
- Even more importantly than all those reasons...it matters how we answer the question "Who is God"...because it matters to Him. God cares what we think of Him
- This is the first trait I want to point out about God. He is an individual. He has a personality. He has thoughts, feelings and actions. This is called the "Personhood" of God.
- Gen 1:1
- Gen 1:26 -man in God's image
- Deu 30:8-9 - action, delight
- Psa 84:2 - the living God
- Psa 84:11 - bestows favor
- John 5:26
- 2 Pet 3:9 - none should perish
The Bible clearly portrays God as an individual with thoughts, feelings and actions. He has a mind...he makes plans. It may seem obvious to us, but this is an important distinction.
- God is not a cosmic force in and throughout nature. We don't find any evidence of divine attributes within nature itself, but rather He has the power to affect nature.
- God is not some sort of cosmic dust that sticks to our souls and affects our self-realization.
- God is a being...a person...with desires. We are created in His image....and like us He desires others to know Him as he actually is.
- imagine how it would feel to have people all around you saying that you are something you are not.
- I want to leave you with this thought today: Like us, God desires relationship with others. He chose to pour out His love for us, and His greatest desire is for us to choose Him. He reached out into our world when Jesus came and offered His life for our sins. And God is reaching out to you personally today.
- Examine your life. What are you going through? What are the difficulties and challenges you face in life? God is reaching out to you in those situations....wanting you to see Him...desiring you to look His way...longing for you to choose Him and accept what He has to offer you.
God is a person...not a human being...but an individual...who desires a close relationship with YOU.