writing on the wall

The other day I got a forwarded email with the explicit warning that God was being thrown out of America. The writer(s) spoke of movements bent on removing the Ten Commandments from courthouses, the words "in God we trust" from our money, and the phrase "(one nation) under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance.

Have you heard this stuff?

And then, I was watching a news program as a well-known host warned that Christmas was under attack. He sighted recent examples where the phrase "Merry Christmas" was being swapped for "Happy Holidays" and historic Christmas symbols were being removed to make room for more inclusive decorations. And the entire segment was supposed to be a sort of rallying cry for the faithful, to what he called a war, being waged on the sacred by the secular.

And so people everywhere have begun this crazed effort to try to protect God. In some places, groups have organized prayer meetings on the grounds of the state courthouses- calling on God to intervene so that He might not be removed from our nation’s life.

ou know there's this story in the book of Acts where the people of Athens- a supposedly wise and learned people- are meeting in a place called Areopagus; a place where they discuss the latest ideas and listen to the newest philosophy. And Paul comes on the scene with this completely new way of understanding the Divine. And so there's this amazing moment where he says, 'Look, I know you are a religious people. I see objects of worship all over.' And he says, 'I even found an altar with the inscription: To an Unknown God.'

And he says, 'Don't you see, you are even ignorant of the very thing you worship?'

And so he goes on to tell the Athenians about this God who made everyone and everything- But does not live in temples built by hands. And he says that this same God is 'not served by human hands, as if he needed anything.'

Now at that time, this must have been the most revolutionary, crazy and absolutely brilliant idea. To a people who have all their lives served these distant, angry gods, erected temples for them to live in, and built statues of them to worship- comes a God who Paul tells them is "not like gold or silver or stone- an image made by design or skill."

And it must have blown their minds as they’re told that this God is the same God who gives everyone breathe, life, and creates everything for a specific time.

And Paul tells the people of Athens that God did all this so that they’d, "seek Him, perhaps reach out for Him, and find Him, though He is not far away from us."

It's like Paul is saying, 'Look, forget about the statues, the temples, and all the locating devices; this same God is everywhere and in everything. Just look around you.'

David, in the book of Psalms says it this way, “The Heavens declare the Glory of God and the earth shows his handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.”

ou see, we don't place God in our lives by having an embroidered quotation of the Lord's Prayer above our kitchen table. And we don't evict God from our schools simply by removing his name for the Pledge- these are just signs of religiosity.

Religious references and symbols are not God. And God doesn’t need them.

We worship a God far more personal, far more real than renderings. We worship a God who lives in the hearts of men- not in or on the walls we build.

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