The story about the golden calf has always intrigued me. You remember it. It’s when the Israelites were waiting for Moses to come down from Mt. Sinai. They grew impatient and turned to Aaron and demanded, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”1 In other words, they told Aaron: Give us a god who can lead us because Moses is gone and it looks like he is not coming back! 😮 So, the Israelites were ready to abandon Yahweh (the God who had delivered them from slavery with many signs and wonders) for another god. Why would they do that? 😕
Well . . . the ancient world believed in many gods: the god of wisdom, youth, war, magic, the sun, the moon—and the list goes on and on. There were about 40 gods. People worshipped them according to their needs. Other nations worshipped many gods, but when Yahweh came to Moses and announced, “I am the Lord your God . . . You shall have no other gods before me,”2 he is clearly telling him to abandon all the other gods. So, when the Israelites asked Aaron to call on another god, they were treating God as if he were just another god!
Therefore, the question for us is this: Is God just another god in our lives? 🤔 If our faith consists of nothing more than spending one morning a week in a church building and perhaps reading about God occasionally, then I venture to say that our faith is just another “thing” in our lives—like being a sports fan and going to a basketball game and reading about the team from time to time. In that regard, our faith is really just a hobby, a “thing” to do and one of our many little gods.
There are plenty of people who are willing to include Jesus in their lives as one of the many things that they do. But that was never Jesus’ idea of faith. Jesus told his disciples “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”3 Jesus is not asking us to include him in our lives; he is demanding that we give him our lives. And most people are not ready to do that. They prefer a god they can manage—a god that fits into their lifestyle.
If we are looking for a little god, something to meet a particular need, there are many from which we can choose. The god of sports meets the need to be entertained. The god of work meets the need to have a purpose. The god of money meets the need to acquire things. The god of church meets the need to be a good person. It’s more acceptable to worship many little gods. It always has been.
But if our needs can be met with these other little gods, why do we need God? Good question. Here’s the answer: Jesus said if we follow him, we will find the meaning for our lives—which is what we are truly looking for. “For whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”4 In other words, we find our life when we give our lives to God!
As far as these other things go—sports and work and money and church—they are all good things. But they are just things. And not to be worshiped! But God, on the other hand, is. To be worshiped. And he is the only God. So, the question remains: Is God the most important thing in our lives or is he just another “thing”? 🤔
1Exodus 32:1 2Exodus 20:2-3 3Matthew 16:24 4Matthew 16:25