About a decade ago, I came across an album by an acid jazz group. I thought the music was pretty good, but one thing stuck with me (not the name of the group, regrettably). A line in one of their songs said, “We live in an age of information, but no one knows what’s going on.” How true, and how sad.
Our society sends us countless messages everyday, from advertisements, to the news, to opinions. In social media, it’s amplified: everyone’s messages bombarding us in real time.
In my circles, I often hear a lot about God in those messages. My friends quote scriptures, offer inspirational memes, and make assertions about theology. It helps me to understand more about my friends through their posts and tweets, and it also gets me to reflect about my views of God.
But the dangerous side of these interactions is that they don’t necessarily bring me any closer to God. I might have a more accurate intellectual understanding of God as a result, but these messages don’t cause me to really know God.
Paul the Apostle experienced the same phenomenon in Athens. Acts chapter 19 records that while he was waiting for his team to arrive, Paul had some time to look around the city. He was greatly disturbed to find it full of idols and thus began to plead and reason with the religious leaders. When word of his message spread, he was asked to speak at the Areopagus, a.k.a. Mars Hill, where all the great minds met to discuss the latest ideas. Paul reasoned eloquently with them, drawing attention to one of their own idols: “To an Unknown God.”
My concern for believers today is that we often find ourselves in a modern-day, virtual Mars Hill, discussing all the latest ideas, while we’ve just whisked right past our own Unknown God. Our God, as Paul said, is never far from any one of us. He desires a personal encounter with us and promises to draw near to us as we draw near to Him. He desires to be known, not simply known about.
By all means, engage in the discussion – talk about God publicly, discuss theology, share scripture. But don’t make it a substitute for knowing God personally through prayer, study, and worship. I write this to myself as well as to you, for I often find myself having thoughts about God without actually expressing myself to God and allowing Him to respond.
We can successfully live in an information age, without being of it. Then we’ll not only know what is going on, we’ll know who is going on.