December 27 I Tuesday
“Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: ‘People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god.” —Acts 17:22-23
On Paul’s second missionary journey, he traveled through Macedonia, Philippi, Thessalonica and Brea where he saw pockets of idolatry, but once in Athens, he was distressed to see a city entrenched in idol worship. Everywhere he looked, he saw monuments built to all kinds of gods: gods of the weather, of the seas; gods of strength and excellence; a goddess of love, sex and beauty; gods of the crops, harvest, prosperity, fertility and even a god of the family. Just in case they had left an area unprotected, Paul found an altar with the inscription “to an unknown god.”
What lies behind people worshipping a god that they have made themselves, especially a god they know nothing about? Within the heart of every human being is the knowledge that we are more than just flesh and bone, born into this world one day only to die another. There needs to be a real and lasting sense of significance and purpose. We all have natural appetites; the need to eat, drink, work, love and be loved, but the most fundamental appetite is to know and be known in a way that our fellow beings cannot give. No one can promise a life beyond our earthly existence and no one can promise a life in which we are secure. Yet inside all of us is an inherent need for a life that wants to keep on living.
Author and evangelical leader Mike Bickle once said, “We are made in [God’s] image, and He intentionally planted longings deep within our hearts that only He can fill. He hard-wired us to need, to want, and to find our satisfaction in Him and Him alone.” This begs the question: What if we do not find God? How are these deeply embedded longings to be satisfied?
Without God, a vacuum is created within us, and because nature abhors a vacuum, we will fill it with temporary, superficial things that will only tease and frustrate, but never satisfy. To fill a need, pagan nations would build one altar after another, but nothing lasted, nothing satisfied, and so they would build another altar.
When Paul entered the picture, he proclaimed the One True God—“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands….Rather, He Himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else” (Acts 17:24-25). Any restlessness, dissatisfaction, hunger or longing we feel is there for a reason—that we may seek the One True God who gave us these longings, because only He alone can satisfy them.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for creating in me a longing that only You can satisfy. Fill my life with all of You. Praise You!