Recently, as I strolled our street nearby, I pondered the question: Why had the company that produces my favorite chocolate drink cheapened the product by increasing the amount of sugar and reducing the amount of chocolate? As a connoisseur, I was incensed that something so marvelous had been cheapened. I must call them and let them know what I think about that!
Then it hit me: Would I have as much passion and concern if our God was reduced to a cheapened imitation of Himself? Would it bother me, for example, if He were capable of being bribed? Or, what if He tipped the scales of justice in favor of people like me?
Consider other ways God might be reduced: Suppose He is no longer a person, but, instead, a vast impersonal deity. Would I be copacetic with that?
Does it make any difference if He is ignorant of the future? After all, some Christian theologians teach that. Or, perhaps God turns off the spigot of grace and forgiveness, and instead lets people experience the law of justified consequences, known in Hinduism as karma? You do something bad? No forgiveness; only the certainty that you may be reincarnated as a lesser being.
What if God is a warrior who wills that Christianity will someday conquer the earth? That is what is taught about God in Islam. Would I be happy to know that the God I worship sanctions violence so He has no competitors and to conquer the earth in the name of religion? Or, maybe I would like Him to be a nice Grandpa figure who gives me what I want, when I want it, offering reassuring words while patting my head?
When Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 10:17 “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe,” He was telling the Jews: Accept no cheap substitutes!
Why is God the subject of the Bible, and we the object? Because we are always too ready to fashion counterfeits, cheap imitations, idols that diminish Him and thus diminish us in the process. That’s why Psalm 115 says that those who make idols become like them. They are cheap knock-offs, and we will eventually become the same.
The question that I ask myself today is this: Would that matter to us?