Worship Without Understanding

Acts 17:22-31

In contrast to what many may think, it is very possible to worship that which we don’t understand or, maybe, even know. The Bible clearly illustrates that certain men may, and do, worship without understanding:
– According to Jesus: The Samaritans were doing so, John 4:22.
– According to Paul: The Athenians were also.

They were worshipping the UNKNOWN.
They were worshipping in IGNORANCE.
They were worshipping without UNDERSTANDING.

Worship, indeed, can be misdirected. For far too many in this “self” age, the aim of worship is, “What’s in it for ME?” Notice the focus and the direction of this form of worship. It is not God centered, but ME centered. Self-worship may not have many temples erected for its expression—but its faithful worshippers are all too plentiful in this day.

Men tend to make themselves gods that are much like themselves. The gods that the people of Athens made were modeled after themselves. When men reject the true and only living God they tumble head long into ignorance, they begin to make their god or gods in their own image. (True worship, however, occurs when God is worshiped in Spirit and in Truth, and this kind of worship transforms man into the image of God.) Real worship with knowledge and understanding brings about a change –not just a surface change, but a change within the very soul..

The Athenians erected an altar to “the Unknown god.” They feared that they had overlooked or neglected some “god” and that they might offend him and incur and suffer his anger and wrath for this offence. What was the motive of this worship? Love and knowledge? No it was fear and superstition—it was worship without knowledge or understanding.

The Samaritans were half Jews but because they had being so long in Babylon they had intermarried and blended their Hebrew worship with the worship of the Babylonians. And their worship became corrupted, compromised and degenerated into ritual and superstition. Jesus said of their worship, “You worship what you do not know.” Blending the original Hebrew worship with the world had lost them the knowledge of God and His ways!

So much of what we call prayer and worship is actually misdirected. It focuses on us and our needs and on God’s gifts, But not on God Himself. We need to RE-DIRECT our prayer. Aim a little higher than we have. Let GOD, not His gifts, become the focal point and heart of our worship. We need to please Him and not us.

I wonder sometimes if God were to ask us, “Why do you worship me?” How would we answer?

True worship is not about what we GET from it, but about celebrating WHO GOD is—in Spirit and in Truth! Worship, that God desires, does not start with feelings, but with understanding! If we make feelings the priority of worship, then WHO has become the object of our so-called worship?

— jlg —

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