Your God is an Idol

Posted on June 20, 2007. Filed under: Spiritual Musings |

God has become an idol for so many people.  Lately I’ve been wondering how to overcome such a thing.  First, let me define what I mean by God being an idol.  God does say to have no other gods before him and he does say you are not to have idols.  When you pray, what are you praying to?  How do you envision God when you close your eyes and pray?  Could you envision a woman?  A dog?  An it?  I once had a theology professor ask us to go home and pray the “Our Father”, when we returned to class she asked us what we saw when we prayed…there were the classic responses of a gentle old man, a picture of Jesus, etc.  The next time we met, she asked us to pray “Our Mother”, then she asked the same question.  Some people couldn’t do it, it was too sacrilege for them.  Finally she asked us to pray “Our IT”.  Almost everyone couldn’t “do it”, they didn’t “feel” anything, etc.   The lesson she was trying to teach us is that we more often than not have an “image” an “idol” set up in place of the God who is there. 

This was quite disturbing to me.  How much of an idol had I set up to pray to?  The question is, have I made a God in my own image or developed a God in some image period?  In the preface to N. T. Wright’s The Challenge of Jesus he says, “I have three concerns throughout the present work.  The first is for historical integrity in talking about Jesus.  Many Christians have been, frankly, sloppy in their thinking and talking about Jesus, and hence, sadly, in their praying and in their practice of discipleship.  We cannot assume that by saying the word Jesus, still less the word Christ, we are automatically in touch with the real Jesus who walked and talked in first-century Palestine, the Jesus who, according to the letter to the Hebrews, is the same yesterday, today and forever.  We are not at liberty to manufacture a different Jesus.” (p.2)

When you go to South America, you see a black Jesus, in the north, a white Jesus, in the East, an Oriental Jesus.  That’s not necessarily dangerous, it’s the Jesus that we assume to be real, the Father we assume to be real, the Holy Spirit we assume to be real, the gospel we assume to be real that are dangerous.  Many of us have already made the bible an idol; don’t put your drinks on it, don’t throw one away, etc.  Have you put your understanding or vision of God up on such a pedestal that it can never be changed?  How flexible is your vision/understanding of God?  Can you envision the feminine aspects of God, the shapelessness of God?  It’s next to impossible to have no vision of what God is to you.  But we can’t let it get so static, so impossibly set in our heads that we can’t see God for God’s self.  God is so close yet so far, to use Philip Yancey’s book title, we truly are reaching for the Invisible God.  Continue to reach, continue to stretch, continue to let God mold you and mold himself to you.

Peace to you all!

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6 Responses to “Your God is an Idol”

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“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 Jn 4:16).
These words from the First Letter of John express with remarkable clarity the heart of the
Christian faith: the Christian image of God and the resulting image of mankind and its destiny. In
the same verse, Saint John also offers a kind of summary of the Christian life: “We have come to
know and to believe in the love God has for us”.

Benedict XVI – “Deus Caritas Est” (“God Is Love”)

And don’t forget – love is a verb

Humans like familiarity. It’s comforting. It puts us at ease. When we are attempting to relate with someone/something, we look for commonalities between us. We put a familiar face on God and it allows us to think “He is like me. He understands me”. And as with any relationship, that draws us in. But we should never forget that He is such much greater than what we think. Remember – our imagining is finite. God is not.

That’s why I love my mom and my baby’s god-daddy!

First off – define idol? You never did that – you moved on and paraphrased (should tell us actually text support – you know there is an online bible in many versions you could have looked this up in – ya lazy) poorly your support from God’s perspective of why we are idol worshipping Him.

Actually when I pray I don’t think I conjure an image but when I imagine God I think of the Abraham Lincoln Statue in DC but with a different face – a man’s face but not with particular features. When I imagine Christ I imagine a young lean/rugged/not fat guy usually of Indian (like India) or Egyptian skin color – Arab might be the right word. When I imagine the Holy Spirit I don’t actually have a clue in this department – but maybe motherly and I don’t actually conjure an image. I see the trinity as a family and we are made in the image of God (Genesis 9:6) – so we also reflect the trinity (my opinion – on the Trinity).

Now sexless – that really doesn’t matter – we call God father, not mother – that means regardless of his private member (if he has one) he has chosen to be called a male adjective and Jesus his male son also called him a male as well when he named him father. I could keep going on this line – but I will stop because that could be a couple of pages.

From Merriam Webster Online Dictionary
Idol is defined as http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/idol

Depending on how you define IDOL – I mean definition:
1. A false God – well he isn’t false, he is the real deal – so you can’t put that definition on him.
2. A likeness of something – well we have to think of something to pray to– and it is a likeness meaning that real deal will embody some characteristics of the likeness. Again we are made in his likeness – so we would be missing the mark if we thought of a cow when think of God but when we think of a male – that would be a likeness however different.
3. Visible but without substance – this is my ideal version of God it is basically if you take a male mold and make it all fuzzy through one of those glass shower doors – hey look it is God
4. God – the object of extreme devotion. Not the image of God but the actual essence. Which is what I am personally devoted to – I am not devoted to my imagination.

I find you use the word idol in its many definitions loosely. Some people could always fit into this perception of your blog – although I don’t see it (there are people that have a narrow mind about God though). But the bible example – I am sadden by – it is kind of lame in its representation. I mean you are like that with all your books! LOL 😉 And I don’t really think because you take care of something that has a message from God on it, in it, embody it, etc – that you are not responsible for idol worshipping it or extreme devotion to it. The bible is a gift to us from God – we fucked up the last major one (His Son) so we are trying to do better this time.

But God as an Idol? I don’t think worshipping God his essence the image individuals conceive of him is going to piss him off or lead us to wrath. I think you should do a blog on being more open minded to the mysteries of God – because that is what the exercise is really all about. Putting God in a box – bad. 🙂

And this is why I like to not read serious blogs – this took me an hour to get out exactly what I wanted to say.

Enjoyed your thoughts. They are much like mine which is why I found yours looking for an opportunity to expand the idea.

Why can’t an atheist believe in god? Maybe he or she doesn’t believe in the concept of CREATION. God created the earth and all those others things. Yet, an atheist can CREATE a baby with their spouse. Take a piece of baron land and CREATE a house. And plant seeds in the ground in order to CREATE food to eat. To deny that their is a God is to ONLY deny YOURSELVES. If you sooo anxiously want to SEE what God looks like in order to BELIEVE all you have to do is LOOK in the MIRROR. It’s that easy. If God really had an image..whether he be white, black, female, or whatever. Everyone would try to look like him. Think about it..everyone would die their hair,wear the same clothes, get medical operations…etc etc. God does not want to be idolized. So instead of having one image..there are many images. God is DIVERSITY.


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