In Acts 17 Paul is talking about the idolatry of the Athenians. He is saying that even by pagan logic, the Athenians should know that idolatry is wrong. Peter is talking about the logic behind the suffering of those who do good. He is saying that no lasting harm can come to those who do good, but, in some cases, the righteous suffer as a part of God’s larger plan. Finally, in John, Jesus is talking about the connection between love and obedience. Jesus is saying that those who love him will obey him and therefore nothing, not even death, can separate them from God.
Those few Athenians who heard Paul and believed turned away from their idolatry. Peter’s readers were comforted knowing that God can convert the suffering of the righteous into blessing. The disciples and John’s readers were given instructions for surviving physical separation from Jesus after his death. For us, these texts teach us that God is closer than we think.
Christ is the true likeness of God. Though statues may look very life-like, the resurrected Jesus is actually alive. Jesus Christ points us to God in a way no idol can. In fact, if we keep Jesus’ commandments, he will do more than point us to God, he will dwell in us and reveal God to us.
Preached by the Rev. Jake Dell on May 21, 2017 at Holy Trinity Church Inwood.