Thirty-Ninth Day of Easter   7 comments

Above:  Areopagus, Athens, Greece

Image Source = ajbear AKA KiltBear

Glorifying God

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

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Acts 17:15, 22-18:1 (Revised English Bible):

He [Paul] argued in the synagogue with the Jews and gentile worshippers, and also in the city square [at Athens] every day with casual passers-by.

Paul stood up before the Council of the Areopagus and began:

Men of Athens, I see that in everything that concerns religion you are uncommonly scrupulous.  As I was going round looking at the objects of your worship, I noticed among other things an altar bearing the inscription ‘To an Unknown God.’  What you worship but do not know–this is what I now proclaim.

The God who created the world and everything in it, and who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands.  It is not because hie lacks anything that he accepts service at our hands, for he is himself the universal giver of life and breath–indeed of everything.  He created from one stock every nation of men to inhabit the whole earth’s surface.  He determined their eras in history and the limits of their territory.  They were to seek God in the hope that, groping after him, they might find him; though indeed he is not far from each one of us, for in him we live and move, in him we exist; as some of your own poets have said, ‘We are also his offspring.’  Being God’s offspring, then, we ought not to suppose that the deity is like an image in gold or silver or stone, shaped by human craftsmanship and design.  God has overlooked the age of ignorance; but now he commands men and women everywhere to repent, because he has fixed the day on which he will have the world judged, and justly judged, by a man whom he has designated; of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.

When they heard about the raising of the dead, some scoffed; others said,

We will hear you on this subject some other time.

So Paul left the assembly.  Some men joined him and became believers, including Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus; and also a woman named Damaris, with others besides.

After this he left Athens and went to Corinth.

Psalm 148:1-2, 11-14 (Revised English Bible):

Praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD from the heavens;

praise him in the heights above.

Praise him, all his angels;

praise him, all his hosts.

Let kings and all commoners,

princes and rulers over the whole earth,

youths and girls,

old and young together,

let them praise the name of the LORD,

for his name is high above all others,

and his majesty above earth and heaven.

He has exalted his people in the pride of power

and crowned with praise his loyal servants,

Israel, a people close to him.

Praise the LORD.

John 16:12-15 (Anchor Bible):

[Jesus continued,]

I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.  When he comes, however, being the Spirit of Truth, he will guide you along the way to all truth.  For he will not speak on his own, but will speak only what he hears and will declare to you the things to come.  He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will declare to you.  Everything that the Father has is mine; that is why I said: ‘It is from me that he receives what he will declare to you.’

The Collect:

Lord God Almighty, for no merit on our part you have brought us out of death into life, out of sorrow into joy:  Put no end to your gifts, fulfill your marvelous acts in us, and grant us who have been justified by faith the strength to persevere in that faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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Often, when asked why are Christians, people say that they want to go to Heaven and not to Hell.  Heaven is preferable to Hell, but if this is principally why one identifies as a Christian one’s religion is mostly or entirely self-serving.  Embedded in the Incarnation is the premise that Jesus came not to be served, but to serve.  The crucifixion is most emblematic and indicative of this service.  And Paul did not understand his Christianity as self-serving, for he suffered greatly because of his faith and actions which flowed from it.

Also, by serving and glorifying God we are supposed to draw people to God and encourage those already united with God in faith.  Thus gifts of the Holy Spirit have a communal purpose; they build up the faith community, not the individual.

The Westminster Catechisms (Larger and Shorter) state that man’s chief and highest end is “to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”  This is the most concise statement on that subject.  Enjoyment of God can take many forms, but indicates (regardless of its form) a spiritual state.  This can come only from God, who draws us more closely into the divine presence and transforms us.  St. Augustine of Hippo said, “Love God and do as you please.”  Certainly, if we love God as St. Augustine understood that thought, we will take delight only in what pleases God, so we will be able to follow our delights without fear of them leading us astray.  Now all we have to do is reach that pinnacle, by grace, of course.

KRT

Posted originally at SUNDRY THOUGHTS OF KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on April 6, 2010

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