November 5, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Acts 17:26-27 (NIV)
From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.
All of humanity is meant to glorify God, to draw attention to the weight of his reputation. We are to steward our relationships to God, others, and creation faithfully. God graciously enables image-bearers to seek for him and reach out for him.
In the last devotion we saw how Paul looked under the Athenians’ idol to tell them of the God they did not know (Acts 17:23). It begs the question: for what reason? Why does God place groups of people in various places?
The grand narrative of scripture is a beautiful way to encapsulate how God is unpacking one overarching story. All of humanity is meant to glorify God, to draw attention to the weight of his reputation. We are to steward our relationships to God, others, and creation faithfully. God graciously enables image-bearers to seek for him and reach out for him. We are a people who know what it is like to strive and seek for something. In every part of the narrative of God we find restless souls looking for something more.
Paul is not unfamiliar with striving for things in his own life and he is quite honest about it. Perhaps his own conclusion that his own striving was rubbish (Philippians 3:8-9) in comparison to trusting God compelled him to share with the Athenians the bigger story. They were in Athens because it would lead them to search for God. And if they searched for God, they would find that he is not far from them.
Our days tend to lean towards swimming through life’s experiences, forgetting that there is a transcendent stream at work. We can forget the bigger story in light of our present situation, and we can fail to see others around us, often distilling them down to what they have done or not done. Yet, the words from Paul ring throughout the ages: God chose every nation and people to be right where they are so they might seek for him. And the result is to recognize that that he is not far.
The truth of the matter is in pits, furnaces, caves, pagan palaces, and prisons—whether you have circumstances of troubling leadership decisions, blue-collar struggles, unemployment, or displaced work; whether you’ve been dropped or done the dropping. It would be easy to inscribe “to an unknown God” to difficulty. And we can often affix “temple to an unknown God” to people who look or act differently. As Gospel people we know and should embody a more holistic story. God chose us in those circumstances, and he is not far away, and when we arrive at him he makes all our strivings cease. His presence makes our restless souls find freedom.
What else do you notice about the rest of what Paul had to say and the Athenians’ response in Acts 17:38-34?
Write down the regular places you spend your day. Where do you see hints of “they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him”? As you think about those spaces, write down how you could help others understand that the unknown God can be known.
God, I thank you for making me know you in saving and real ways day by day. Please help me to remember my own experience of learning to recognize you as I see others. You have shown yourself to be trustworthy even when I doubted you. Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the High Calling archive, hosted by the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Selling Out or Just Selling?.
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DeLano J. Sheffield is the Business Resource Specialist for Goodwill of MoKan where he connects to people on the fringes, training them to reach their full potential through learning and the power of work; he also is on the frontlines of the advances of the fourth industrial revolution and coaches leaders on diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. He began his career as an architectural engineer then went on to attend seminary. In every part of his life he finds ways to infuse theology into vocation, and strengthen practical connections of faith and daily activity. DeLano lives in Kansas City, Missouri.