"The gulf separating paganism and Christianity is clear even in Paul's Areopagus address. Paul appears extremely polite and appreciative in his references to Greek philosophy, but toward the end of his discourse he makes reference to 'repentance' and 'judgment,' and these two words place what he first said in a new light. Paul here issued to the proud and the wise a call to repentance. Their profound notions of the deity stand condemned, and their path leads to destruction, for the deity about whom they spoke such exalted things is not the true God who has shown his mercy in Christ Jesus, but is what Calvin referred to as the umbratile numen, the nebulous all-pervading being, fabricated by us to fill the emptiness caused by our unwillingness to recognize the true God."
-J.H. Bavinck, An Introduction to the Science of Missions
In the absence of the true God, a vacuum is created in which humanity will inevitably make something else to be god. The only question is what that god will be. At the Areopagus, the philosophers and leaders of the people of Athens exalted gods reflecting their own image; gods emanating the wisdom and pride of the Greeks. The kingdom of humanity. And yet, Bavinck, by way of Paul, reminds us that such fabricated gods are, instead, foolishness. Further, what they trusted to bring life and flourishing to the world was only another means of death and destruction.
True wisdom, fullness of life, and human flourishing come through the recognition--not the rejection or fabrication--of the one true God, who, rather than reflecting our image, creates us in his own. The true God who stoops down to reveal himself, in revelation and redemption, extending his mercy and grace to us most clearly in the person and work of Christ. Through Christ, the Kingdom of God breaks into our world in a way unlike any other, renewing hearts and minds to trust and obey the all-wise King, and beginning his work of making all things new.
Whose vision and kingdom do you carry within you? The human kingdom, whose wisdom is foolishness and whose gods are impotent to bring the flourishing and life for which we yearn (ultimately leaving us disappointed and disillusioned)? Or the Kingdom of God, whose (perceived) foolishness is true wisdom and whose God is not only capable of bringing renewal to all things and everlasting life, but is already doing so in Christ by the powerful working of the Holy Spirit.