Arrogant, pride-filled, nearsighted humanity has a problem with "needing God." True enough, humanity always has had "gods" in abundance. We have gods we feared; gods who served us; gods who were angry with us; gods who punished us; gods who used us for their own amusement. Paul once observed that the Greeks erected an altar to the "unknown god" in their fear of overlooking a god (Acts 17:23). Some suggest that gods are a human creation to fulfill a human need. That suggestion may reflect a degree of truth. Often gods were (are) created to explain the unknown.

Virtually all peoples worship and reverence something. (Rare exceptions exist.) While the god worshipped varies, at least one discernible thread is woven through the fabric of most concepts of deity. Humanity says that it fears, is dependent on, and can be punished by the gods. That is not the thread.

This is the discernible thread. In the final analysis, the gods owe their existence and survival to humanity. The gods exist only when humanity remembers them and chooses to serve them.

Repeatedly, Old Testament writings contrasted the living, creator God who chose Israel with gods worshipped by other peoples (and too often by Israel!). One contrast was fundamental. The living, creator God did not depend on humanity for existence. Israel did not feed Him, preserve Him, protect Him, or give Him life. When they forgot Him, He lived and acted. When they deserted Him, He lived and acted. When the temple was left to ruin, He lived and acted. And His actions proved that He was alive!

This living, creator God sent us Jesus. He saves us. Though humanity does its worst, our worst cannot destroy His love, exceed His mercy, "out need" His grace, or generate wickedness that is beyond His forgiveness. No matter what we do, He lives and acts.

We are powerless to destroy Him. He was before we were. He will be after we are not. Yet, we can do something horrible to the living, creator God. In our minds and hearts we can remake Him. We can make "a god" out of "The God." Each time our concepts make God depend on us instead of our depending on God, we are guilty. That is when we made "a god" out of "The God."

Too much of "our religion" exists to defend a god that we made. Too little of our Christianity surrenders to the living, creator God to allow Him to remake us.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 18 April 1999

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