Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you.”
Paul’s experience in Athens, which he says the words of Acts 17:22-23 seem similar to what happens to many people today. There are people who at present remain extremely religious. And I am not referring to any particular religion; the same belief may be a Judeo-Christian background, Muslim practitioner, Eastern religions, African rites, new age or any other religious expression invented by man to approach divinity.
It might be thought to lie more religious a person is, the closer it is to God; but that’s not always true. In the time of Jesus, the most religious people were the Pharisees, of whom He said this in Matthew 23:13: But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. In the words of the Lord Himself, the religious Pharisees were not entering into heaven or let anyone in and their religious practice was pure hypocrisy.
In addition to the double standard that applies to many religious practices, which prevents the approach of man to God through them it is that they are based on something different from the true purpose of God principles. The American pastor Jerry Cross said: “The mark of every false religion is a man-centeredness that God depends on us, instead of us depend on Him.” The Bible clearly states that God created man in His image and likeness; but man has invented false religions which has created a god in the image and likeness of himself.
Let’s dig a little deeper about what Jerry Cross says. We will not talk now of religions that contradict the Bible but those practices allegedly sustained in the Word of God. Today there are preachers who have settled Scripture to meet people. If people want to hear that they will be rich and have no problems, some churches focus their message to these issues. Thus, they have created a firefighter god or a stock exchange broker god whose function is to serve man.
And although such religious practices undoubtedly false abound today, it seems to have been a cancer in the church for centuries. Proof of this is what he told the English preacher William Jay (1769-1853): “We have no reason that our religion is the religion of the Bible, if it is acceptable to the taste of carnal minds.” William Jay dead more century and a half ago and he spoke affluent religions and human mind and divorced from the Bible.
Religion is not a tool to get closer to God; rather it is an attempt by man to achieve that goal, which is generally useless. The Unknown God announcing Paul wants to establish a personal relationship with every human being, we do not get closer to Him by rites and traditions. That relationship with God is one in which He is our Father and we are His children, can only be achieved through Jesus Christ. God bless you.