God is the Creator, not the one who was made, and He is the originator of all things. “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.” (Acts 17:24-25)
This Scripture above shows that He is completely self-sufficient, needs nothing from us, and can’t be made to fit in a box so that we can better understand Him. But when we seek a relationship with Him, He will reveal Himself to us: “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant.” (Ps 25:14)
When we stop to consider Him as the Creator, we must realize that we can’t contain Him because He is everywhere. “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.” (Prov 15:3) Without Him revealing Himself to us, we can’t understand Him because “‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways’, says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.'” (Is 55:8-9)
Men have always been trying to shrink God into an understandable size, and when they couldn’t they created their own “gods”. We haven’t moved far from ancient idolatry, where they took a piece of gold or silver or wood and carved or formed an idol, thus worshiping the works of men’s hands. Nothing in our lives will impact our relationship to God, to people, our self-view, decisions, purpose, and everything more than the answer to the question on Who do we privately conceive God to be in our heart?
“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1 Jn 3:2-3) The moment when we see Jesus unveiled, in all of His glory, we will be transformed and will be like Him, which is difficult to comprehend, but our faith is our hope. Nothing is more important than seeing God, not as we perceive Him to be, but as He actually is.
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God.”–A.W. Tozer
Today we still see men worshiping themselves, projected to infinite proportions, as his god. That’s idolatry. Paul points out that this is not in line with reality. God is not the projection of man; God is greater than man. God originated man. Everything that exists came from His hands. He is the Maker, and not the made. “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” (Col 1:16)
God is the giver, and doesn’t have any needs Himself. God isn’t looking for anything from man, as idolatry and paganism taught. People had to bring gifts to the gods, they had to do things for their gods, to propitiate them and sacrifice to them, and bring them all kinds of things. “Thus says God the Lord, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it, Who gives breath to the people on it, And spirit to those who walk on it.” (Is 42:5)
People today are still sacrificing to gods. As a society, we aren’t free from idolatry. If a god is that which is the most important thing in your life–to which you give your time, effort and energy–whatever occupies the primary place of importance to you, is your god. Money is a god for some, fame for others. Your children, your spouse or even yourself can be your god. As we saw yesterday, even working for God’s kingdom can become our god if we begin to find more joy and satisfaction in the work for God than in relationship with Christ.
Paul cancels out the need of our sacrifice for any god by stating that the One true God is one who gives, who pours out. He doesn’t need anything from us, but wants a relationship with us. Are we willing to honestly evaluate and courageously confront, and name, our personal idols? Do we see our idols as affronts to the presence and power of Christ in us and through us as the Lord does?
Are we sacrificing our time, our very lives, to those idols — lives purchased and legitimately owned by Christ who died for us? We need to have a clear understanding that “the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” (Deut 4:24) And as much as He loves us, He will not tolerate us forsaking Him. “The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.” (2 Chron 15:2b)
Father, I know how I have tried to satisfy the emptiness within with some lesser concept than you. I can never do so and am therefore rendered restless and unhappy, never finding what I am looking for. I pray that this great message may have its effect on me as it did on Athens, and that our darkened society will be set free from its bondage to materialism and made to be what you intended us to be. In the precious name of Jesus, amen.