(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

A few months ago, as I was sitting in a youth event, my mind started to wander away from the lesson a bit and began to slip into a world of deep thought. My eyes began to drift slowly across the sunlit room, taking in the sights of my fellow peers, the color of the familiar walls surrounding me, and the small objects sitting around the room in several different spots.

But even though I was profoundly familiar with this space where I was sitting, the Lord revealed something new to me (as He often does when I take time to look about) that never held much significance before.

I began to think about the many other similar youth events I had attended in the past and began to remember the many different students who had stood to my left and right, who had a deep, outward response to the workings of the Holy Spirit. I thought about how there would typically be several different people who would make their way up to an altar that was almost always present in front of the stage, and how they would soon be surrounded with friends and fellow peers praying over them and helping them work through certain things.

My mind specifically stopped on the image of those crowded altars, and I couldn’t help but wonder why I had never experienced that same Holy Spirit driven worship in this event I was now attending.

As I thought, my eyes drifted toward the altar that ran the length of the stage only a few feet away from me, and I noticed something that has been burnt into my thoughts ever since.

The wooden altar, sitting a few feet above the floor, only a short distance from where we all sat, was covered with ridiculous clutter.

Game boxes, candy bags, sound equipment, cords, a laptop, and several other objects lined the length of the altar, with only a few small spots of the smooth wooden surface still visible. As I stared at it, I was overcome with a desperate, sorrowful feeling. A feeling of longing to see that altar in use again.

I began to realize that there was actually a great deal of significance to this sight that lay before me, and one that the American Church needs to wake up to.

God began to reveal to me that this was one of the most blatant, but almost unconscious actions that slammed the door of opportunity in Jesus’ face.

You see, this action represents an unabashed rejection for a move of the Holy Spirit.

Now, I want you to understand, I do not, in any way, believe that God can be restrained to an altar. However, we as human beings need a physical place where we can go to get right with Him sometimes.

This cluttered altar represents the complacency and weakness in the American Church, because we no longer wish to stand in the presence of God and feel conviction and fear for the stupidity we have allowed into our lives.

We have allowed our lives to become cluttered, much like this altar. Cluttered with skewed priorities, where we place our social status, our previous engagements, and our personal enjoyment above the power of the God who places breath in your lungs, minute by minute.

This altar clearly says to those who enter that building, and to the God who resides in it, that “We haven’t seen a move of God in this youth event no matter how many times we’ve tried. So now we’re just not going to even worry about keeping the altar open for students who may want to radically repent and get right with Jesus. I hope they all make it okay out there in the wide world.”

“For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of Heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives life and breath and everything. And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him. Yet He is actually not far from each one of us.” (Acts 17:23-27 ESV)

By creating cluttered altars, we are portraying to people that we serve an “unknown God”, the same unknown god that the Greeks did.  We have not identified Him any better than they did by not even allowing people to experience what can happen as we kneel before an altar. But, if we are calling people to a radical, Biblical Christianity, our altars would be overcrowded with living, breathing souls versus inanimate objects week after week.

The Lord is not far from each one of us, maybe it’s time to clear our cluttered altars so we can actually meet Him. 


= What have you allowed to clutter your life?

= What are you going to do differently?

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