We had our sportsfest in the seminary last week. Our second year batch played basketball against the freshmen. It was a good game although we lost by two points. The sad thing is, I didn’t play. I was sick that day. I did not play because I know my wife will be mad at me. I want to help my team win the game. I think they need me. I thought, “If I was there playing, we might possibly win.” We had another game last Thursday. I played. We lost. They need me on the team. I did all that I can do. We still lost the game. My effort was not enough. It was not sufficient.
We like the feeling of being needed. We want to be important. We like to hear someone say that they would be happier if we attended the party. We like the feeling if someone missed our presence or expressed their desire for us to help them because only we can help them. We cannot be this way in our relationship with God. We must not think that God needs us. He does not need us. We cannot contribute something to him. He is sufficient. This is clear in the message of Paul to the Athenians:
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything (Acts 17:24-25 ESV).
A Sufficient God
Our God is a sufficient God. He does not need anything from us. He already have everything. If we don’t get what Paul is communicating here to the pagans, how can we say that we really know the God whom we worship?
There is a great need in the church to know God for who he really is. Paul was in Athens. He was distressed to see that the city was full of idols (v. 16). This moved him to talk with them about the true God. He discussed with Epicurean and Stoic philosophers (v. 18). The Epicureans believed that man live for pleasure and happiness. If gods existed, they are above human events. The Stoics, on the other hand, believed that they must align themselves with the “Purpose” directing history. There are some good results with that belief but it also leads to pride and self-sufficiency. Paul’s message will appeal to the line of thinking of these men. They were religious people (v. 22). But that is not enough. To know God is the goal of life not to be religious. Paul found an altar with the inscription: “to the unknown God” (v. 23). The Athenians feared that they might overlook some “god” that they need to worship but they know nothing about. Obviously, they were trying to serve all gods. They think they need something that can be fulfilled by their worship and sacrifices. They were wrong. Then he said beginning verse 24:
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything (Acts 17:24-25).
We also need to hear this. It is distressing if we are not really worshipping the true God. It is distressing if there were banners in our churches that read like “to the unknown God” because of the way we relate to him, the way we pray, sing, give, and serve in the ministry. This text teaches the sufficiency of God. He lacks nothing that his creation can satisfy, nothing that our worship or service to him can satisfy. Nothing! In our relationship with him, we need to remember two things in light of the absolute sufficiency of God.