Summary: Why am I here - God answers this question, among others, in this section.
Acts 17:22-31: ONE QUESTION FOR GOD: WHY AM I HERE?
Today, as you well know, is Mother’s Day. Today is the day that many people give and receive cards that express appreciation to their mothers for all the things that they do for their children. But not all children know who their mothers are. There are lots of children out there who are orphans, for one reason or another, and on this day, lots of questions arise in their minds. Who really is my mother? What is she like? Why did she leave me? Will I ever meet her someday? For some people, Mother’s Day can be a confusing, a difficult day.
Have you ever met a spiritual orphan? What is a spiritual orphan? A spiritual orphan is someone who has questions in his mind like, “Who really is my God? What is he like? Why did God leave me here on this earth? Will I ever meet God someday? What will that day be like?” Have you ever had questions like that?
Today, the Word of God will address a very common question that people have, a question that all of us have from time to time: Why am I here? As we look at this portion of God’s Word, we will find the answer to this question, an answer that God wants you to hear if you’re not a Christian, or if you are. Why am I here? May God bless you as you spend these next few minutes in your life thinking about God’s answer to that question.
The Apostle Paul is speaking here. He was in the city of Athens, speaking to some of the leaders of the city. Look at how he starts his speech: “Men of Athens, I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: “To An Unknown God.” The people of Athens were very spiritual – they set up statues devoted to all different kinds of gods all over the city. Every street corner had its own god, and it was up to you to decide which god you liked. Deep down inside, though, people in Athens knew that they were probably forgetting a god along the way, and so they “covered all their bases” by having an altar devoted to an unknown god, just to be on the safe side.
Doesn’t this remind you of our world today? In the United States, there are all different kinds of religions, all different versions of god, and it’s up to you to decide which god you like. Whichever version of god makes you the most happy, that’s the god that people pick. But no one really knows which god is the right one, and so to make themselves feel better, people say, “It doesn’t matter which god you believe in, as long as you believe in something.” That Bible tells us that this approach to religion is wrong, and will hurt you, more than help you. Deep down inside, people know that they’re missing something about the true God.
God doesn’t want people to live in ignorance about him – that’s why he sent the Apostle Paul to Athens. Look at how Paul describes the true God, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth, and does not live in temples built by hands.” God created everything you see, Paul told them. He doesn’t live in all these temples that you built. “And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.” God is the one who gave you life, Paul told the people. He doesn’t need your statues and temples. You need him. “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth.” God is the one who made all people, and God is the one who allows nations and governments to come together. “And he determined the times set for them and the exact places where the should live.” God sets up exactly when and exactly where people live.
This is different from how people picture God today. God didn’t make the world, people say. It developed on its own. God doesn’t give me life – I give myself life by earning a paycheck. And as far as when and where people live, that’s just a combination of accident, luck, and people’s choices. That’s not God.
No, God says. Look outside the window. Everything you see – every plant, every animal, every machine and building, every person – ultimately, I made it all, God says. I made the natural resources. I have made everything. It’s true that you bring home that paycheck, but if it weren’t for me, God says, you wouldn’t be able to work – you wouldn’t even be able to breathe. And it’s not just an accident or your brilliant planning that has brought you to the Midwest, in this particular town, at this particular place, God says. I have set up exactly where you live, and exactly when you should live.