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  • The Kaleid Team

Finding Our Center - In Christ in Acts

Dear Kaleid Ladies,

Today we continue our Easter series on being “in Christ” as Paul’s way of talking about being a Christian.

Paul was quite a fellow.

We know him from his letters and from Luke’s stories. We know him from his legacy and from anecdotes about his relationships--with Peter, with Phoebe, with Barnabus, with Lydia, with Timothy, with Junia.

We can tell that he was a bold preacher and a devoted friend. He saw people and spoke to them in humility and in truth.

Paul preaches a powerful and discerning sermon to the curious crowd in Athens in Acts 17. He is fresh from being escorted out of two cities - Thessalonica and Beroea - for “turning the world upside down” by teaching “that there is another king.” (vv. 6, 8)

And so we meet him in verse 16, alone in Athens, waiting for friends (Silas and Timothy have been called to come). He is“deeply distressed to see that the city was full of idols.”

He’s had a lot of adrenaline in the last few weeks and he may be (understandably) pretty tired. But…

He can’t help himself.

He’s deeply distressed.

He goes to the middle of the city where the philosophers and worshippers are, and he preaches.

Before we return to his sermon, consider this:

What distresses you today? Where do you find that you can’t help yourself, even when you’re exhausted from the fight?

The people of Athens were compelled, too, but by something else. They couldn’t contain their compulsion for new knowledge and new things to worship. They couldn’t keep from trying to figure out the new and next. The Message says that the people heard Paul and wanted to know more because, “all the Athenians and the foreigners living there would spend their time in nothing but telling or hearing something new.”

What compels you today? How often are you captured by something or compulsively moved to spend your time figuring things out?

Paul knows where the Athenians are. He sees them. They are compelled and he is compelled, but whereas his compulsion is centered in steady worship aligned to God, their compulsions are dispelled by their scattered allegiance to anything and everything.

He is compelled by his compassionate distress. They are compelled by their self-absorbed distractions.

In his sermon, Paul begins where they are.

He centers them before he challenges them.

He reminds them that they are held, already, and that their frenetic suspicion that something bigger surrounds them is totally on point. It is THE point.

“The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn’t live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn’t take care of himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don’t make him. Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s near. We live and move in him, can’t get away from him! One of your poets said it well: ‘We’re the God-created.’ Well, if we are the God-created, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to think we could hire a sculptor to chisel a god out of stone for us, does it?” - Acts 17:24-29

In Him we live and move and have our being. We are invited to discover him and to know His name. We are invited to locate our center in him. He already did all of the making, all of the revealing, all of the reconciling. The space is prepared for us, and we can enter in. We are invited to come home, and home is in Christ.

Paul continues, “The unknown is now known, and he’s calling for a radical life change.” (v. 30)

Paul’s invitation is for the Athenians to lay down their un-knowing, compulsive ways of trying to do life and to enter into a new knowing in Christ that will change everything. It might, in fact, turn their world upside down.

Moving from an anxious sense that “God must be holding things together (but I sure can’t see it)” to a yielded belief that my life is hidden with Christ in God calls for a radical life change.

May we lay down our compulsions today and turn toward the vulnerable and free space of knowing and being known.

In Him we live and move and have our being. Thanks be to God.

Blessings, friends,

The Kaleid Team

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