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The Unknown God: When Worship Is Complicated

Updated: Jan 1, 2023

Apostle Paul was a travelling Evangelist with a deep passion for turning the hearts of men to God.

Paul must have seen diverse types of pagan worship in his travels. But when he got to Athens (modern day Greece), he saw something that he had not seen before.

The Athenians made out an altar, which they dedicated to worshipping THE UNKNOWN GOD

(Act 17: 24).

This was a contradiction. The Athenians were obsessive knowledge seekers, but on the matter of devotion, they were content with not knowing what or who to worship.

How can people so committed to the pursuit of knowledge do such an ignorant thing?

How can you worship what you do not know with so much passion and dedication?

Old problem, new places

The Athenisation of worship did not end in ancient Greece. The quest for spiritual wellbeing is driving many to seek experiences in diverse places.

Some spiritual gurus have built careers and money-making ventures around helping other people seek spiritual adventures and experiences.

Even when people do not go to exotic destinations in search of spiritual experiences, they worship at the altar of other unknown gods like self, drugs, sex, money, power, fame, and the like.

Made for worship

The Athenians were worshipping without knowing who they worshipped. They had the desire to worship God, but they lacked the know-how.

Every human being has an inborn desire to worship. We are designed for worship. But what makes the difference in life and eternity is the object of worship.

In the famous Confessions, St Augustine of Hippo said:

“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

There is a depth in man that constantly yearns for divine connection. This is because the very breath in our nostrils belongs to God, whether we acknowledge Him or not. This is a fact of creation.

C.S. Lewis wrote:

"God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on."

There is a longing in man that cannot be satisfied by anything else save the joy that is anchored in God.

Before St Augustine, the wealthy and wise King Solomon made a poignant observation:

“Everything leads to weariness—a weariness too great for words. Our eyes can never see enough to be satisfied; our ears can never hear enough” (Ecclesiastes 1:8).

What then would satisfy?

Knowing that nothing will satisfy should not cause despair. It should rather push us to seek out our purpose.

Francis Brook said:

“My goal is God Himself, not joy, nor peace, nor even blessing, but Himself, my God.”

God must be at the centre of it all. God must be the object of our desire. That is how it was from the beginning until Man fell to self-adulation in Eden.

In the book of Revelations, we see a sneak peek of the eternal destiny of Man. The twenty-four elders prostrated and cast their crowns before the throne of God in worship, declaring:

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created (Rev. 4:11, KJV).

The heart of man cannot find satisfaction in anything on earth.

You may have tried them yourself by now and tired out. Career, drugs, money, pleasure, fame, power, you name it. Whatever "high" you got came crashing right down.

Like the twenty-four elders, why not resolve to do what you were created to do?

Roy Hession, in his book, We Would See Jesus, noted:

"There is a God-shaped blank in the heart of man, and also a man-shaped blank in the heart of God."

God made the first move over 2000 years ago. This means that whenever Man responds to God’s love, they can be sure the feeling is mutual.

Therefore, for peace to reign in your heart and soul, for that emptiness to be filled, all you need is to lie down in complete surrender, cast your crowns at His feet, and worship Him that sits on the throne.

Time for true worship

Just like in ancient Greece, many today are not out and out idolators. But they are devoted to unknown gods with self at the centre of their desires.

But we know WHO we worship. He does not need a physical altar. He desires worshippers to connect with him in spirit and in truth.

It is time to worship a God that is KNOWN, the Almighty God, who has graciously given us His Son Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Saviour.

Dear God, help me to know you, the only true God and your Son Jesus Christ, and nothing else. Amen.


Photo Credit: Jeremy Perkins on Unsplash

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