The belief in a supreme being who is above all time and space has been within the human spirit since life began on this rock. There have been gods of wood and stone. There have been angry gods, sensual gods, absent gods, demanding gods, and demi-gods. The human spirit loves this idea of a god, so much so that we can’t stop inventing them!
There was once the mention of “the unknown god” in ancient Athens – the once prominent philosophical center of the world. One day, a visitor who claimed to follow a man named Jesus joined the conversation, stirring the hearts of those listening. In the Scriptures, this is the account we find:
“So Paul took his stand in the open space at the Areopagus and laid it out for them. ‘It is plain to see that you Athenians take your religion seriously. When I arrived here the other day, I was fascinated with all the shrines I came across. And then I found one inscribed, TO THE GOD NOBODY KNOWS. I’m here to introduce you to this God so you can worship intelligently, know who you’re dealing with.’” – Acts 17:22-23
Notice: Paul didn’t dismiss the other gods being worshipped during his time. He wasn’t there to speak about the validity of the gods already known to the Greeks. Rather, he only spoke to “introduce” the listeners to this God who he had met in the man named Jesus.
The God of Jesus rarely shows up, yelling, screaming, and telling people that they’re hell-bound. Rather, this God showed up on the scene, walked among us, taught us the ways of righteousness, gave of Himself completely, and then took the death we deserved upon Himself…Sin is very real and hell is a place separate from God, but He wasn’t willing to let us rot in our own fallen state. If Jesus was being for real, which I believe He was, then He came to bring us back to life!
What is it about Jesus that confounds me? Maybe you wonder why I am captive by a God who is often portrayed as a legalistic, self-consumed, egomaniac who is overbearing and hateful. What confuses me is how culture has adapted to that one portrayal of God, abandoning the actual reality of the God described in the Scriptures.
I was once a child of a lesser god – a wanderer in my own filth, worshipping what my greedy heart desired. Then I met Jesus. He wasn’t like the other gods who never offered something more than what I could taste, feel, and see with my eyes. He was beyond my understanding.
Fun fact: the God of Jesus Christ is the only God who came to humanity to give us forgiveness, while every other god requires sacrifice, persistent pursuit, and religious appeasement. Jesus did something very different than the lesser gods we created in our own image: He became the sacrifice for the sins that we could never atone for in ourselves.
The 21st Century gods are rarely found in stone and wood. Rather, we find them located in magazines, on screens, in retail stores, in career titles, and in so-called success. We love making gods in our own image, rather than worshipping the God who created us in His image…Such a role reversal.
Paul continued speaking to the crowd in Athens, explaining in further detail about this God who was unknown:
“‘The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn’t live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn’t take care of himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don’t make him. Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s near. We live and move in him, can’t get away from him! One of your poets said it well: ‘We’re the God-created.’ Well, if we are the God-created, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to think we could hire a sculptor to chisel a god out of stone for us, does it?’” – Acts 17:24-29
He makes the creatures; the creatures don’t make him.
Wow. What a concept! A God of eternity who doesn’t require our imagination!
Have you been worshipping a lesser god of your own making? What captivates your heart? In who or what do you place your trust? Within whose hands lies eternity? Is your own existence the god of your making, or is it possible that this Jesus was actually the God who placed eternity within the human heart?
I once was a child of a lesser god. There’s no going back to such a hollow life…It’s devoid of the substance for which my heart truly longs: a God beyond my own understanding.