Copyright 2006 by Joshua Wood
Discuss this article at: http://thetwelves.com/phpBB2/viewforum.php?f=2
Ladies and Gentlemen: God is not your pet.
Quite the contrary, actually. He’s the God of the Universe by whom we live, move and have our being. He is less interested in becoming what you want him to be than I am in coexisting with liberalism.
But despite his sovereignty, his created still assume he can be domesticated.
Our churches are becoming god-breeders and pet stores where families can pick the perfect family god. We stand, separated by glass, in front of a row of cages looking for the perfect god. Then, when we think we’ve seen “the one” we go into a small room and play with it for a few minutes to make sure it has the temperament we’re looking for. As long as god wags his tail and licks our faces we’ll take him home and teach him the house rules.
And for those unruly gods we’ve got god-training at our “pet-stores” (churches), or, in those cases of completely untrainable gods, we’ll either fire the pet-store management or find a new pet-store completely – after dropping the undesirable god off at the god pound for adoption or destruction.
After much interaction with god owners, I’ve identified the most common breeds of god.
The Lap-God is known for its quiet, laid-back personality. They are as eager to cuddle up next to their owner as they are to go for a quiet stroll through the park. Easy to maintain and requiring little exercise, the Lap-God is perfect for anyone that wants a god without all the hassles normally associated with god ownership. They are humble gods. Owners never complain about their Lap-Gods attempting to assert their will or be dominant. And Lap-Gods never act outside their owners’ ability to understand. They are completely transparent and logical.
If you’re looking for absolutely no obligation, the Lap-God is the god for you.
The Guard-God is perfect for protecting you and all that’s important to you. Known to be fiercely loyal and protective of you, the Guard-God gains its self-worth from making sure no hardship befalls you. There are two distinct lines in the Guard-God breed.
The Avenger Guard-God is bred for individual protection. The Avenger embraces the hopes, dreams, beliefs, philosophies and scripture interpretations of its owner and will attack any god that does not submit to it. The Avenger is perfect for anyone whose world-view is based on emotions or laziness as well as those not desiring to be around gods that they view as aggressive. The Avenger is the perfect companion for anyone afraid of the True-God.
Cousin to the Avenger is the more family-friendly Nanny-God. The Nanny-God is great with children and busy families. Bred for its ability to stand guard and ensure that nothing harmful happens to the family – especially the children. They are clean and neat. They are ever-vigilant. They will even take your kids to church and school. Once you’ve employed the Nanny-God there’s no need to worry about the kids ever again.
But the Nanny-God is not just good with the kids. They are also good at chasing away The Perils of Life, Illness, Meanness, Challenge, Growth, Conviction, Hurt Feelings and “Ugly Talk.”
Rest assured; if anything ever enters your world that makes you uncomfortable or unhappy, it is not the result of anything the Nanny-God has done.
I once had the pleasure of being present, in a vehicle, in a mall parking lot when a young woman suggested we pray before we entered the mall. I thought, “Oh, cool, she is hoping for a chance to witness to someone.” As she began to pray she said, “Dear Lord, please help us find a bathing suit for the lake and a $5 present for our friend’s party.”
As she was done praying, I immediately asked her why she didn’t have a (Bargain)Hunting-God. The (Bargain)Hunting-God is a god especially gifted at helping its owner find everything they’ve ever wanted – at a reasonable price. In fact, they are so skilled that all many owners have to do is verbalize exactly what they want and the (Bargain)Hunter will almost immediately present it to them.
Anyone tired of their pedestrian life – or just not having the right shoes – would benefit from a (Bargain)Hunting-God.
Of all the god breeds, The Show-God is the flashiest. The Show-God loves to be pampered and dressed up. They flourish under the glare of the audience. Their swagger is perfect. Their bark is always in tune. Their tricks are always properly timed and flawlessly executed. Of course, the downside is that they are extremely habitual creatures. They can become moody and aggressive if there routines are altered. On occasion they’ve been known to attack their owners for varying the routine.
Oh, and they hate drums.
The Show-God should be handled with caution by an experienced god handler, and they should never be left unattended around children.
Stop playing games with God.
God has told us enough about himself for us to know how silly these understandings are. Yet we’re so eager to glorify ourselves that we’re willing to reduce God to our image.
It’s sick. And it’s not even creative. It’s as old as human sin. Satan tempted Eve: “Become like God. Know what God knows.” Instead, they saw what God saw – they saw themselves as they were.
We cannot continue to play games with the name and image of God. We can’t allow our teachers to propagate myths of a neutered, user-friendly God. We can’t tolerate teaching that leaves us feeling OK about our misunderstandings and shortcomings. These pie-in-the-sky pictures of a Santa Claus Jesus are destructive.
This whole line of thought was spurred by a worship song I heard in a church recently. A line in the chorus was praising the “humble” love of Christ.
I almost walked out. What is humble about defying all of society’s conventions and expectations? What’s humble about forgiving sin? What’s humble about conquering death for the elect? What’s humble about crafting your signature into creation so that even those who never hear of you are still unable to escape you?
Jesus was humble in many ways – even unto death, but his love was outrageous. His concern for his people was unmatched. His passion for righteousness sparked the most righteous anger humanity has ever seen.
But we’re so busy as a people trying to feminize everything, to soften everything until it’s comfortable for everyone – especially the reprobate – that we’re losing a picture of the overwhelming audacity of God.
He doesn’t want our best efforts. He doesn’t want us to try. He doesn’t want us to set realistic goals. He doesn’t want strategic visions and five year plans. A humble God might be happy with these, but the outrageous God of the Universe meant it when he said he was jealous – he wants it all: our time, our efforts, our energy, our passions, our hearts, souls and minds.
And we want to call him humble? We want to create god-breeds that fit nicely on our laps or with our models of a good life.
We would be wise to rethink our understanding of God. We would be wise to rework our approach. Maybe we’re the ones that ought to try humility.
Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I'm aware, by your comments, that your mind is made up about me and that my words will most likely fall on deaf ears, but I feel compelled to respond to your comments.
After reading, rereading and having someone else read them, so I can be reasonably sure I know what you were saying, I have to ask: Was Paul justified in correcting the Corinthians? Was John (the Revelator) justified in correcting churches? Were Peter and Paul justified in debating issues of the faith. Your comments seem to indicate that since Jesus didn't ask my opinion, I should sit back and just watch sin happen b/c after all, Jesus is building his church. And while I agree - the only worthwhile church is founded upon Christ, he did call men to teach, preach, prophesy - and in all of these it is sometimes necessary to call sin by its name. The Holy Spirit has given me a passion for challenging the church to put aside its sin - b/c those promises you challenge me to claim can't be realized while we're harboring sin. If you think I should quench the Spirit, i'll let you tell him. I'll wait for a report on that conversation.
As to your remarks that speaking from my heart about the church is useless because it will only reach a few thousand and arrogant if I assume it will reach more: again, I must ask, would you say this to your pastor who only preaches to a few hundred? Or to a missionary taking the gospel to tribes of a few dozen? Is scope the measure of value? And since you certainly can't read my mind - on infer from my writings - the true passion I have for the church, I have simply to disregard your unfounded words about what you perceive my sense of self-importance to be.
I am so glad to have been able to read this piece!
I agree, the problem is with us. If we won't humble ourselves, He will humble us and, in the process, show us exactly why He is God and we are not!
Didn't He have to do that repeatedly to the Israelites throughout their existence? Time and time again, they would refuse to do all He commanded (those are giants over there and we'll be schmucked if we cross the Jordan, can't I keep just one little spoil of war, surely God doesn't mind my mountain shrine because He's a big God, etc.) His responses? A no-expense paid 40 year trip back through the wilderness, the momentum of battle turned against the people until the plunder and the guilty one was discovered, bad kings that led the people straight into captivity. There are many more examples throughout Scripture but so little space here.
He is God, and we are not. And I must confess, I am not yet where He wants me to be. The old self loves to reassert herself on the throne (as if she ever sat on it, much less ruled from it!) I still sin. And I would add, I sin in what some people might think are small ways...wasting time at trivial things, getting offended at things someone might say, exaggerating (akin to lying), opening my mouth when not directed to do so, etc. God wants all of me, and I sometimes hold parts of me back.
I appreciate your boldness and your message to the church. Keep writing, Josh! Let your passion for the church and the Holy Spirit direct you!
Well observed, well said,humorous and true. Once Christians get a grasp of Who God really is, then the world will be changed. Or maybe not. But at least the Christian who sees God as the Almighty will be changed. One of the reasons the Church of Christ is so anemic is because we "play" at Christianity and adopt the world's habits. Then we wonder why we are so ineffective when we try to witness for Him. Or worse yet, we just don't witness, because we know we've made God too little to help anyone. May God forgive me for the times I've shamed Him by trying to fit Him into my little box of expectations and thus shown the world a "little-god."
As far as the writing itself goes, it's textbook. So too with your ability to get your point(s) across.
As far as the content I have to say that if you suppose that one article written by one person on a website that has a few thousand readers will make any difference in the Body of Christ world wide then I would have to agree with your last line about US trying "humility". That last line undercut the whole story with the grandiose assumption that the author is humble by their own definition and in their own estimation.
He said He would build His church and so far I've not received a single phone call from Him asking how well I thought He was doing.
Claim the promises NOT the problems.