“There is none like thee, O LORD; thou art great, and thy name is great in might. Who would not fear thee, O King of the nations? For this is thy due; for among all the wise ones of the nations and in all their kingdoms there is none like thee. They are both stupid and foolish; the instruction of idols is but wood! Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz. They are the work of the craftsman and of the hands of the goldsmith; their clothing is violet and purple; they are all the work of skilled men. But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King. At his wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation. Thus shall you say to them: “The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens.” It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.”
“Some also of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers met him. And some said, “What would this babbler say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—becausehe preached Jesus and the resurrection. And they took hold of him and brought him to the Are-opagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is which you present? For you bring some strange things to our ears; we wish to know therefore what these things mean.” Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new. So Paul, standing in the middle of the Are-opagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything. And he made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the Deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, a representation by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead.”
We can read these passages like the ones above and think how foolish the people of the past were. How superstitious! But wait a minute, are we possibly doing the same things? Have we replaced wood with hand held devices, and silver with cable TV, and gold with education / careers? Do small “g” gods exist in our lives? Do we spend more time attending to the gods in our lives than focusing on our relationship with the eternal God?
We can also make God into our image. We say to ourselves, “I will call upon Him when I need to. I will go to Him on my terms and seek Him when it suits me“. We can do this without even realizing it. There is a theme in both the Old and New Testaments that shows us how God constantly wants His people to look to Him for all things, not just some things. God wants all of me not just part of me. Of any generation that has ever lived on this earth ours has more things coming at us and pulling on us from so many directions.
The things of this world are temporal and fleeting and only seeking the real God, the creator and sustainer of all things, provides true meaning and life. But it is up to us (and only us) to take a stand and give God the place in our lives He so richly deserves.
May we look at whom or what we are serving in our lives and thoughtfully consider where we are placing our time and energy. Let us echo Joshua’s words, “Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River, and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. And if you be unwilling to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:14,15)