To An Unknown God//Knowing God Through Divine Distress
When you hear the word “idols”, you probably imagine larger-than-life statues of prominent figures from the past that are admired by subsequent generations. And you’d be right. In Acts 17:16, Paul traveled to Athens and was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw in the city. Their temples and homes were full of gods (foreign and domestic) and shrines. The men of Athens were very religious. Yet they didn’t know the one true God. Paul was distressed by what he saw because he realized these idols were creating a barrier between the people and God.
Today, idols are more than well-chiseled rocks and shrines. In 2020, we no longer physically bow to statues but instead worship entertainment, actors, models, political candidates, sports teams, and the athletes that don our favorite jerseys.
“The human heart is an idol-making factory” - John Calvin
The reality is we live in an idol-driven world. We always desire the latest and greatest thing. No, it’s not wrong to enjoy entertainment and to scream at the top of our lungs at sporting events. But how do you relate to the Father? Do you keep that same energy, or do you find yourself taking an apathetic approach in your relationship with God? If you were to take inventory of your own heart, what barriers would you find that are holding you back from really experiencing the wonder and awe of God?
When we allow these “idols” to take precedent over our daily walk with God, we become desensitized to His voice, oftentimes without even knowing it.
So how do you get that sensitivity back when you’ve lost it? Pastor Noah gives us 2 ways to become spiritually distressed:
1. Spiritual Practices -- What spiritual disciplines are you practicing daily? Spending daily time in the Word and in prayer keeps you open to hearing the voice of God clearly. It’s hard to know anyone well when you don’t spend any time with them-- same thing applies to our relationship with God.
2. Faithful Suffering -- When it comes to the Christian life, we will face conflicts and challenges. Despite the difficulties that may arise, through faithfully suffering, we’ll stay open and sensitive to the voice of God.
It’s good to be reminded that anything can become an idol if we give it priority over God. Take time this week to search your heart and ask God to show you where you’ve replaced Him with something else. Only God can reveal what’s in your heart. A simple prayer will suffice: “Lord hurt my heart for what hurts yours.”
Here are some ways to express distress this week:
* Embrace Lament -- learn to bring these things to God
* Prayer -- take it to prayer to get His insight
* Appreciation -- gain an appreciation for scripture and God’s creation
* Honor -- “God I’m going to honor you by elevating you during the distress in my life”
Mission -- if I’m distressed by things, it should move me to action