Paul said, “Although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him.” All people, including you, me, and the man in the African bush, have rejected true knowledge of God. The Bible says we have foolish hearts and futile minds. We have an inherently sinful nature that rebels against the knowledge and the glory of God.
Though this is a fundamental truth of the gospel, it is often overlooked in discussions of what happens to those who never hear about Jesus. We easily forget about the distortions that plagues our hearts because of sin.
The following is a discussion from a group of college students. One of them asked, “What about a Native American tribe, for example that originally inhabited parts of America?” She continued, “Maybe that tribe had never heard of Jesus and they didn’t have the Bible. But they did have an innate desire to worship, and so they worshiped what they knew-maybe the sun god or something like that.” She finished, “They were doing the best they could with the knowledge they had. Isn’t that good enough?”
It was a great question, and it drives us back into this fundamental truth we can’t forget, discard, or ignore. All people, including men and women in ancient tribes, reject true knowledge of God. In the words of Paul, these natives were worshiping created things rather than the Creator.
So does worshiping the sun god count as good enough? The answer is no, according to Paul in Romans 1. People don’t get credit before a holy God for worshiping gods they create or imagine. Sun gods, moon goddesses, gods of prosperity-none of them deserves worship. Only God deserves worship. So when we worship these “gods” instead of Him, we don’t get credit for trying our best. Our idolatry is just not good enough.
This is not a specific indictment of certain native tribes or any other cultures around the world. It is an indictment of all of us. We are all idolaters. Whether in America or Africa, or Asia, no one worships Gos truly, because in our hearts we reject the true God. So there is another truth to consider.