There is a temple in Kyoto Japan called the temple of a thousand gods. As the name suggests, there are multiple deities in this temple, although a bit of research was confusing enough for me to say that’s as much as I understand of it. I can’t wrap my brain around that many gods, I would have to look around and pick a manageable few for my worship experience. If I were shopping, I mean.
Interesting, though, isn’t it? The idea of deciding on which deity to worship? Shopping around? I like shopping, so I find this idea very interesting, as it seems many people do. But honestly, I do a lot more shopping than actually buying. I like the process. I like parting with my money a lot less than the process of admiring and observing. I am a window shopper. But I digress.
Or do I?
This idea of shopping for a god came to my attention through a conversation about the Kyoto temple, but it got me thinking…I see this all around me, as individuals and families become uninterested in or disconnected from the church. We have conversations about ‘my truth’ as if truth were not absolute. Each person seems to be on his or her own spiritual journey, authored and directed by self. I’m just going to go ahead and say it: that’s dangerous.
There is a quote, [not well sourced, sorry, but good for this conversation] ‘God made man in His image, and man returned the favor.’ This sums up the constant human urge to create a god that looks like us. But when I worship a god that looks like me, that’s not me worshipping God at all, that’s me worshipping me. And oh, how I love to worship me. I get caught in this trap. All. The. Time.
Sometimes it looks like pride, and that’s not cool. But other times it looks like insecurity. It seems that when I feel up to the task or when I don’t feel up to the task, well, both times I am focused on myself and not focused on God working in and through me. And what I focus on, that’s called idolatry. What I idolize, I worship…self.
This ‘self’ thread I’m pulling from your spiritual sweater might seem harmless, but trust me, it’s not.
In a greater sense, though, we want to worship something relatable, something attainable, something that we can understand. Is that so wrong?
In a word, yeah.
And frankly, it’s shooting too low. If we shop around for a god we understand, can attain or relate to, that’s just something human we called god. Which fits right in with the wrong idea of ‘god in all of us’ and ‘god in everything.’ Theologically it’s sticky, because through the Holy Spirit, the one true God does reside in us. And general revelation says we should see God in everything. [I’m not getting into general revelation. Seriously. Just Google it. Or you can read this blog by my friend Marcos.]
But when we try to distill God down into just those things we make Him too small. Yes, He lives in us when we accept His Son Jesus Christ, and yes, we see Him in nature, but there is so much more to Him. More than I can say here because it’s more than I can ever say or understand. And that’s the true God, the God of the Bible, which gives us a glimpse of Him, but only a glimpse, despite its exhaustive conversation about Him.
Honestly, I don’t want to worship a God I can completely understand. That’s no god at all.
Shopping around for a god that suits you might feel like a personal journey to spiritual enlightenment, but if you don’t land on the God of the Bible, who was made flesh through Jesus Christ, who wants to live in you through the Holy Spirit, then you are window shopping. Wandering around, observing and admiring but not actually getting anything of value.
While I do recommend window shopping as a method of saving your money, I don’t recommend it as a method of saving your soul.
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.-Revelation 22:13