Friday, May 28, 2010

Not God

In the first chapter of Romans, Paul writes that God has revealed himself through his creation, yet people have ended up worshiping the creation rather than the Creator.

I think it's beautiful that God chose to reveal himself through the things he made. He called them good, and they are indeed good-- perhaps because they point to him. It's not hard to get caught up in making false idols of that which is of God-- that which points to him, reveals him, and reflects him-- but is not God.

Oftentimes the things we make idols of are not bad things, they are good things. They reveal something about God, and we see the goodness in them, but we may end up following after those things rather than God himself. And eventually, it's easy to be swept away and led astray because what we've committed our hearts to and set our sights on is not God.

Actually, this reminds me of something I read in the book Jesus for President. I'll share a short excerpt here (emphasis added):

It's the beautiful things that get us. Perhaps the greatest seduction is not the anti-God, but the almost-God. Poisonous fruit can look pretty tasty. That's what is so dangerous about ideas like freedom, peace and justice. They are all seductive qualities, close to the heart of God... Most of the ugliness in the human narrative comes from a distorted quest to possess beauty. Coveting begins with appreciating blessings. Murder begins with a hunger for justice. Lust begins with a recognition of beauty. Gluttony beings when our enjoyment of the delectable gifts of God starts to consume us. Idolatry begins when our seeing a reflection of God in something beautiful leads to our thinking that the beautiful image bearer is worthy of worship.

Suppose you've been reading someone's blog or a book they've written, so you know quite a lot about what they enjoy and appreciate. So you decide you will pursue those same things, you will try to become like them and appreciate the things they appreciate and enjoy the things they enjoy and do the things they do. Then maybe one day, when you're enough like that person, you will meet them and form a relationship.

That's a weird way to approach a relationship, right? Yet I think we do this with God more often than we realize. On the surface there seems to be just a trivial difference between following after the things that are close to God's heart and following after God, but in reality the difference isn't trivial at all! As Christians, we can read through the Bible and see the heart of God revealed over and over. But do we try to pursue the things that are close to God's heart, the good things, the "almost-God," or do we first develop a relationship with him?

Here is the beautiful thing: through relationship with him, our hearts will be changed and we will naturally start living in ways that are close to the heart of God. To try to pursue those things without the relationship, or in hopes of becoming good enough to develop a relationship with him, is backwards.

Maybe this sounds entirely foreign to you, but it's something I've struggled with, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. I have seen things that absolutely reflect the heart of God and I've tried to do and be those things-- but without pursuing the relationship above all! I end up trying to do them on my own, and I tell myself that if I can make these things appear in my life, I will be closer to God. In the end it's another kind of legalism and another kind of idolatry. It reminds me of the fruit of the Spirit; you can't make it grow in your life. It is not the fruit of your efforts or the fruit of your good intentions; it is the fruit of a relationship with God.

So when we see things that are good, things that are close to God's heart, God's beautiful creation, the "almost-God," let's remember that these do not stand alone. They are good, they are beautiful, they are meaningful, because they point to him. How tragic it would be to be so close to the Creator only to be sidetracked by following after the things that are close to him-- but are not him.


  1. An excellent post! You had a good study and gave an intelligent explanation that can be easily understood by anyone.

  2. What an absolutely amazing post!! I think God is definitely working through you to speak in this post - How exciting!!

  3. That's excellent, Jenny. Incredible, thought-provoking message.

  4. *blush* Thanks everyone. It was really nice to read such encouraging words. <3