Worshiping Things Instead of God
What things do we hold in our lives in place of God without realizing it? Paul stood on Mars’ Hill in Athens, Greece, and admonished the people for worshiping a God they knew nothing about. He enlightened them just as God’s word enlightens us. Once we know, we have no excuse for the change we internalize deep down in our hearts.
22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.
30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
Acts 17:22-31 (KJV)
Do we worship things instead of God? What do we worship without knowing we do? Garden, lawn, internet, job, house, hobby, sports team, diet, fitness? God is in none of this…and He is in all of it. Jesus is in none of this…and He is in all of it, or should be. Why do these things command such focus in our lives? God made all of these things, but these things are not themselves God yet we sometimes place more emphasis on these things in our lives than we do on the one who made them.
These activities and things that command so much of our time have no eternal benefit. These are things that rust destroys and that moths eat. Entropy and decay take these things over time and at our passing all of it is gone. None of it deserves our worship. Much of it has value in our lives to be certain, but none of it has as much value as Jesus Christ has in our lives. How much time is spent on those things in that list or those things that personally came to mind versus time spent with God, asking the Holy Spirit to guide us, or thanking Jesus for His sacrifice on our behalf?
God is here asking us these very questions. Are we knowingly or unknowingly worshiping these things instead of Him? He already knows how this works out as we make choices in our lives. His direction is for us to move away from those things that carry no eternal profit. His point is to repent of those “idols” those things that take the focus off Him in our lives. Can we do those things with a focus on God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus? Yes, absolutely. The question is, are we?
The Greek word for repent or repentance is metanoeō. This word is never translated in the King James as anything other than repentance. It has several flavors meaning to think differently,, and in a moral sense to feel the need to reconsider. This is repentance. Before, I thought this thing, whatever IT is, was okay. Now, I feel differently. Now, I do not believe it is okay. This is repentance. This is what our mindset should be when we find a difference between how God’s word says we should live and what we are doing in our lives. We should think differently afterward and feel a need to reconsider how we live, then make a change.
Jesus said in John 14:6 speaking to Thomas;
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
John 14:6 (KJV)
Making these other things the center of our lives does not bring us to God. Should we not then consider spending more time on that which does bring us to God? It is fine to have skills and joy in those other things and activities but we need to introspectively evaluate them in light of where true value lies and reorder our priorities appropriately. We can’t take our stuff with us when we pass away. None of what we built or established in this life moves on to the next. What does move with us is the very soul of our being. The heart-position, the motivations for why we do things is what lies at the center of our being. These things God knows all too well. These things, God sees, and at the end Jesus will judge. It is for us to attend to them now with an eye towards Him in all things. The rest will take care of itself and we will no longer be worshiping things instead of God.
Questions for Reflection on Worshiping Things Instead of God
- What things take up most of your time in any given hour, day, or week? If the feelings associated with this question were not good and happy one’s resolve to do something about that.
- Whether God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus are already in those activities or not how can you make those activities more god-centered than they already are? Put at least one of those ideas into action.
- What is your understanding of repentance and how is it incorporated into your life? If a specific understanding and response to that word doesn’t come to mind resolve to study it until a solid belief is created.