“Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, ‘Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: To the Unknown God. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you’ ” (Acts 17:22,23).
THE EFFECTIVENESS OF OUR LIFE’S “JOURNEY” IS LARGELY DETERMINED BY THE “MAPS” OF REALITY THAT ARE STORED IN OUR MINDS. If our maps are wrong — if they don’t accurately represent the “territory” as it really is — we’ll be misdirected and end up far from where we need to go as human beings. In the end, we’ll be disappointed with our “destination” if we’ve based our actions on erroneous ideas about what is true and real. Our perceptions of reality are very important. They need to be as accurate as possible.
But if we can see that our maps, our “paradigms,” are important in life generally, can we see how crucial they are when the specific subject is God? If by “theology” we mean the “study of God,” there could hardly be a study of more practical importance. A. W. Tozer was right when he argued, “It is impossible to keep our moral practices sound and our inward attitudes right while our idea of God is erroneous or inadequate. If we would bring back spiritual power to our lives, we must begin to think of God more nearly as He is.” To have maps of this territory that turn out to be wrong is to have a problem of eternal proportions.
None of us can say we are entirely free of this problem. Even at our best, the tendency is for us to worship not the Creator but creatures of our own desire. To some extent, all of us have been guilty of idolatry, which is the worship of something other than God as He truly is. So the question is not whether anyone presently has a full knowledge of God, but whether we are moving in that direction. Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). Growing in our understanding of God requires honesty, humility, repentance, diligent study, and a host of other demanding requirements. But there can be no eternal life for us if we fail to make the knowledge of God our highest goal and pursue it with wholehearted passion.
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us” (A. W. Tozer).