We want a little god. The desire runs in our tainted bloodstreams. Some of us keep seeking one god after another, till all the little gods we embrace let us down, and finally, in desperation, we cry out to the Big God Who really is. Some of us try to make the Big (True) God little, and bring Him down to a level where we can use Him as we please.
Exodus 32 has me thinking like this. But life does, too.
Moses is long gone up on the mountain, and the people miss his presence. As much as they grumbled against him in the past, now they’re without a visible leader to look to for answers, to lean on for strength, to rely on for handouts, and to follow… somewhere, anywhere. So they feel lost, destitute, afraid. And the God he supposedly represented is lost to them in deep darkness and dense vapor on the mountain, up where Moses is.
So they are god hungry–as we all are, at heart. That “infinite abyss” in every human that Pascal wrote about longs with ravening hunger to be filled, and so we try to quench the soul-deep famine with human contrivance. “Come, make us gods that will go before us.” They said that then, and our hearts say that now. Only make this god small enough that he can’t overpower us, small enough that we can instead control him — or her, or it. Bring him/her/it down to our level.
And so the Aaron priests of this world give the customers what they want. They present a molded calf or a beautiful home, or style themselves or somebody else into a movie idol or political savior. Or they write a book like The Shack and reshape God into the form of a robust African American mama (or mammy?) with a “questionable sense of humor,” who loves to cook and jive to the blues. For money they’ll promote our own personal fame and “success” as an attractive god, or our occupations or pre-occupations. They’ll even help us style our spouse or child or ourselves into our own god. In fact, we can probably do the last quite nicely, without anyone else’s help.
Whichever god we choose from this great variety store, we bow down inside ourselves and worship and sacrifice to it, and are smug and happy — for a while. We sit down to eat and rise up to play, celebrating our possession of our shiny little god.
But big-G God, infinite invisible God, isn’t like that — any of that. And that’s not what we need. What good can finally come from a god that can be ground to powder or killed in an instant? We are meant to be the possession, the big-G God of ultimate love and holiness and wisdom and power the Possessor.
Everyday I ought to ask myself, “Which am I seeking or serving: some small-g god deified by human imagination—or the true God of all, before Whom someday every knee will bow?
True God of everything, lead me out of temptation!