July 10, 2007

Trying to Confine God

Exodus 34:13-14

"You shall not make for yourself an idol ... You shall not bow down to them or worship them." Exodus 20:4-5


The first commandment isn't so easy, but this one sounds a little simpler, right? How many people would actually make idols of God and worship them?

But the issue isn't simply about making an idol. It has to do with understanding what can get in the way of our relationship with God. At the heart of this command is our tendency to somehow confine God so that we can "see" him, manage him, and even pocket him for easier access or convenience.

God isn't simply talking about images in worship; God is talking about our creating an image of what we want him to be. It may be an idea of God as a heavenly Santa Claus to whom we look for gifts. Or it may be an idea of God as an impersonal being out there somewhere. It may be thinking of God as confined to some charm--say, a piece of wood we claim to be part of the cross. Or it may be the idea that God is only a lifeline that we grab when all else fails. But all these are idols of our own making.

God wants us to get to know him as he reveals himself in creation and in Scripture. This means that the way we take down barriers and build relationship with God is by appreciating the grandeur of his creation, listening to what he says about himself in the Bible, and praying that the Spirit will reveal God to us.

Dear God, I want to know you and not be stuck in my boxed ideas of you. I don't want to confine you to what I need or to my comfort level. Help me see you as you are. Amen.

About the author — Henry Kranenburg

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