He’s not good. He’s not kind. He’s not present. Justice and mercy are far from his ways.
This is a god I created, and he’s a god worth hating.
Don’t get me wrong: I didn’t set out to form my own version of God intentionally. It just sort of happened. A subtle lie swallowed here (“Work harder”), a bit of unbelief there (“He won’t love you now, and who could blame Him?”), a tad of unchecked directional shift toward shame, and I had concocted myself a good old-fashioned idol—a not-God—worthy of the Israelites.
This is why I have to be careful of historical snobbery; I’m just like “those people” who should have known better. This is why I need Jesus.
I wonder how many not-Gods are being worshiped on Sunday mornings, adaptations of the real thing we’ve drummed up, slightly (or not so slightly) different than the One in the Word? We haul our fakes around, constantly tweaking them to match our experience. The craziest part is that we often don’t even like our own versions. In a season of suffering, the scowl gets carved deeper. During a time of upheaval, we feel abandoned. We shape God according to our image and come up empty when our “semi, mini, demigods” can’t deliver (thanks, Moana).
Paul David Tripp writes, “Few people will suddenly reject the God of the Scriptures to become avowed atheists. However, many fall away into a cold and distant theological cynicism as the God of their functional theology becomes one who is worthy of neither worship nor respect.”
Friends, any god other than God is a god worth hating. Have you fantasized about a Jesus who doesn’t confront sin because He just loves everyone so much? Love instigates passion for what’s best, and God’s ways lead to life; sin leads to death and decay. Just as a parent can go to jail on charges of neglect and child endangerment, a god without boundaries isn’t loving—quite the opposite, in fact.
Maybe you’ve molded an idol who mimics your sense of fairness. If you do certain things right, you’ll get rewarded; if you don’t live up to your end of the bargain, punishment is waiting with primed teeth. This hard task master creates people who are driven by fear and/or pride. Grace is a foreign concept. Judgmentalism and worry-worn striving replace Christ’s triumphant cry that “it is finished,” His perfect work in our stead gagged by self effort.
Political gods, legalistic gods, health gods, productivity gods, hippie gods, economic gods, social gods—they’re all wanting, lifeless pretenders. It’s only Yahweh, our glorious Warrior King of the Heavens, the gentle Father, God with us, in His stunning complexity, who can be counted on from everlasting to everlasting. If you’re battling some serious disenchantment with “God,” check your version against the Bible. Wrestling with the Lord about who He really is is vastly different than imaging a false god and forsaking Jesus in discouragement.
Of course the idols will let you down. They’re just made of earth. How could a good God let you find peace anywhere but in Him? He’s what you crave, and if you could get a sip of the torrents of His ferocious love for you, you’d break. The anger you’re carrying, the resentment and bitterness and jaded exhaustion caused by what you think is God beating you down…that’s all misdirected at the King who fights for you even now.
You are noticed. Loved. Understood. Enjoyed. Valued. Forgiven. Pursued. Bought with blood. Set apart. Not abandoned. Longed for. Provided for. Spoken for.
The Lord sees us as we are. May we have the courageous humility to lay down our wounded hearts and see Him as He is. Only there can we find the One worth the worship.