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. For in Him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, We are his offspring (Acts 17:26-28). (Underlined are quotes from philosophers.)
God has been unpacking so many truths from this Scripture that I would never be able to share all that I have been learning in a weekly devotion. This part of Paul’s sermon to the philosopher’s in Athens was brilliant. He was able to quote some of the famous thinkers of the day and explain how they were touching on the reality of God’s love for them.
You will see here that all the nations are vitally important to God. Never far from His heart are the nations that completely ignore who He is. He is constantly stirring in the hearts of Christians, brave soldiers who are willing to risk their own lives to go to the people God loves. In some of these nations God seems very far from them. They have never heard of the teachings of Christ or understood that He is the Son of God who came to the earth to satisfy the payment for our atrocious sins. All the while they exist everyday on God’s provisions: the air He gives, the life He alone created, their very beings are in Christ. They exist never know that they are ever on the heart of God. Through the graces and gifts God gives, man can seek Him and reach for Him and find Him! “He is not far from any one of us.”
It is a shame that, though He is not far from any one of us, we are so far from Him. I include myself when I say this. The nearness that God longs for us to become consciously aware of is intense. Only few live on earth fully acquainted with His presence in their daily lives. Because we are His offspring and our true being is from Him, we can experience the nearness of Him every moment in spite of the haze that often distorts our experience of His nearness.
This earth and our very beings are receptacles for the touch of God. This scripture makes me think of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel fresco in Rome. God is actively reaching out to us; all we need is a little effort on our part, and we can seek, reach and find the touch of God! He puts Himself within our reach. The only reason we don’t feel close to Him is that we do not forcefully seek and reach. Rather our desires are weak and limp.
I don’t think Michelangelo was focused on this Scripture, but what He depicts illuminates what Paul described to the learned Athenians. God is within our reach. He has made Himself findable.