When a minister friend of mine, in a recent letter of condolence, asked, "How big is your God?" I was somewhat taken aback. Not because the question was unusual... I had heard it asked before. This was, however, the first time anyone had ever asked it of me; and I was probably a little miffed at the implied suggestion that my theology was somehow lacking. Because, when someone asks about the size of your God; the obvious inference is, "What kind of God have you created for yourself, and what are his limits?"
I understood, however, what my friend meant. I knew that his query bore no malice. He was only trying to encourage me. He wanted me to realize that God is sufficient for any situation or circumstance. This was just his innocent, left-handed way of reminding me that God is quite able to help even me. On the other hand, however, a lack of faith can restrict the capacity to receive such blessings; and this shortage of faith can be attributed to a corresponding shortage in one's concept of God. He was just wondering if my God was too small.
The question was both valid and disturbing; and the fact that it was valid, made it all the more disturbing. For the truth is that most of us do have gods of our own creation which bear little resemblance to the God of the Bible. To each his own; god's are legion.
Our basic concepts of God can vary geographically; from one part of the country to another, and from nation to nation. There is no general understanding of God, nor has there ever been. Most of what we think we know about God comes from hearsay, religious tradition, or our own imaginations. Social, ethnic, cultural, and educational backgrounds also color our understanding, or lack thereof. Even our personalities influence how we think about God. But this is not just a modern phenomenon, for man has never had a real good fix on God.
Why? Why is there no universal understanding about God? Why? Why is there no general agreement concerning the Eternal? Why? Why has mankind reached no concensus in regard to his Creator? Why, indeed! Because, quite simply, it is impossible!
No man can understand God. So, quite obviously, all men cannot understand. Thousands of years of human history absolutely proves this. Our own experiences verify it. And the Word of God confirms it. He is beyond our comprehension. His understanding is unsearchable. He is too high... too wonderful for us; we cannot find Him out. Our minds are too small to contain the God of the universe. We might as well accept this fact.
For it is precisely this recognition and acceptance of our inability to comprehend, that allows us to see those truths concerning God, which we can know. When our minds are not closed by a know-it-all attitude, considerable insight into the nature and character of God becomes possible. For God has not left us totally in the dark, but has chosen to reveal much of Himself to us. Most of this revelation is found in His Word. Many, however, refuse to go to this most logical source for instruction.
If we assume that we already know about God and avoid His Word... we have missed Him altogether. If we opt for ignorance, we will certainly get it. If we refuse instruction out of stubbornness or defiance, we have cheated ourselves. Whatever the reason; arrogance, pride, education, religion, or stupidity... anything that keeps us from God's Word, keeps us from God's Truth. And ignorance is often a matter of choice.
Paul observed that some do not wish to retain God in their knowledge. They are granted their wish, of course, as God gives them over to a reprobate mind. This intentional ignorance is probably the worst kind. However, there is a related ignorance that many of us are guilty of... that being the acceptance of a concept of God that is deliberately hazy.
Maybe we are afraid to know. Perhaps the idea is that with less knowledge will come less responsibility... the old, "But I didn't know" routine. Maybe it is a lot easier to accept a few, fuzzy facts than it is to absorb substantial truth. Perhaps it is just a matter of common, ordinary laziness; not wanting to make the necessary effort to study God's Word as we have been directed. Whatever the reason, lazy hazy or otherwise hazy, the results are the same. Hazy is hazy, and vague is vague... but knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
Since man has trouble understanding anything that he has neither seen nor experienced, all abstract concepts pose difficulty. The Bible tells us that, "No man has seen God at any time, for God is a spirit..." God is also known as the Eternal. Man is in a quandary from just these two characteristics of God. How can we visualize a spirit? Or comprehend anything that has no beginning or ending? Even our concept of time is limited to...and by...the arbitrary units of measurement that we have assigned to it. When did time start? How is it powered? Does it have a quartz movement? If time does not stand still, which way does it go? Down? Out? Or up? And how high is up?
Occasionally, a very rare person comes along who shows some slight capability in surrounding abstract concepts. He advances a theory or develops a formula. We call him a genius. He is promptly elevated to sainthood in the religions of Science or Philosophy. But the average man is not so. For most of us, intangibles are intangible.
Things must have size, shape, color, weight, front, back, beginning, ending, etc. to be readily programmed into our brains. Therefore, an invisible, eternal, creator God, who is everywhere, knows everything, and possesses all power; in addition to being the summation of life, love, truth, and light... totally overwhelms our comprehension. Even so, we need not despair.
Although we can never fully understand God, we can learn much about Him; but, only if we allow Him to teach us. The simple fact is that we can never develop a valid concept of God on our own. The limiting factor is between our ears. Our human minds are inadequate. Finite brains do not readily accept infinite knowledge. When we attempt to plug our mortal minds into spiritual truth, we had better refer to the manual. Watch out! This is high voltage stuff. Our fuses could blow. A transformer is absolutely necessary. Man is only man, but God is God!
There is a conflict. On the one hand, man wants to know more about his maker; on the other, this knowledge is more than he can handle. Man has a deep need and desire to find God, but the carnal mind is not looking for a sovereign God. God, but not the God. Therefore, we have developed gods of our own... gods that are less intimidating, less threatening. Gods that are more easily understood. Gods that are more compatible to our human nature. Gods that we are comfortable with. Alternate gods. Casual gods. Gods to whom we can readily relate. And this is a proven ploy, having stood the test of time.
Throughout history, man has created gods to his own liking. We have crafted them with our own hands and fashioned them in our minds; gods in the likeness of birds, snakes, animals, or even man himself... all sort of familiar things. To these we have assigned characteristics that are both useful and appropriate for any respectable god. We have even developed exotic combinations; gods that bring together a diverse variety of desirable traits, in addition to exhibiting hybrid vigor. We like gods with utility. Most of all, we like compliant gods. Gods that are "user-friendly."
Many of our modern, man-made gods are also man-like. Their derivation is easily followed. If God created man in His own image, then turn-about should be fair play; or, if man is like God, then the reverse should be true... and provable by the Binomial Theorem, or something. Therefore, man-gods would seem quite acceptable and easy to make. Just visualize man and assign him supernatural powers. Bingo! We have a god. Simple, and time-honored. Man-gods. Super-heroes crafted in the tradition of the ancient Greeks and Romans. The most primitive pagan culture has nothing on us. Did you ever wonder why Solomon thought there is nothing new under the sun?
The popular version of this super-hero man-god that is currently in vogue seems to bear a remarkable resemblance to a young Charlton Heston. And he often sports a psychedelic halo, which may, or may not, flash off and on like a Coors sign. At any rate, he will have the personality of a big, benevolent Clark Kent. This is truly a god for everyman. Inexpensive; and built to stay that way.
Occasionally, this god of ours becomes so moved by plaintive prayer or blatant sin that he is compelled to take action. Jumping into the nearest phone booth, he soon emerges wearing brightly-colored long-johns with a large "G" printed on his chest. He will be trailing a long cape, of course. Thus attired, he is ready to zap the sinner and/or rescue the poor widow.
Under this format, when our prayers are not promptly answered, we can assume that god was not in the immediate vicinity of a phone booth, or else a problem had arisen in Australia, or some other far place, that was even more urgent than our own. Since it is difficult to imagine circumstances more dire than those facing us, even in Australia, it becomes readily apparent that the world-wide shortage of phone booths has led directly to our undoing. Silly? Of course, this is silly; but no sillier than every other attitude, religion, or belief that avoids accepting God as He is.
God is God. He is not subject to the limitations of our tiny, human minds; not altered by the most agile imaginations. God does not shrink nor grow in response to the way that we envision Him. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. God is not our creation, we are His. We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.
Does this sound like preaching? It is not. Does it sound somewhat absolute? It is. Does it seem a bit firm? Certainly. This is dogmatic stuff. Just simple facts. Basic. Real. But not necessarily very popular.
This is not what many of us want to hear. We prefer things that boost our egos and fondle our feelings. Things that cater to our vanity and pamper our pride. Things that elevate our self-importance. Things like Humanism, for instance.
Humanism is an aptly named contemporary religion, with old roots. Humanism was promoted by ancient Greek philosophers, but has enjoyed a significant recent revival... currently being quite fashionable. It is the only religion approved by both Communism and Socialism. This is a form of self-worship. We deny God and deify our selves. Man is the focal point.
Humanism tells us that we are getting better and better, in every way, every day; that man is much too smart to believe in God; that man has made fantastic advances; that man alone can, and will, solve all his problems; that we are far too sophisticated to need an Almighty God or His universal code of conduct. Hogwash! Sophisticated??!!!
The simple fact is that man has not progressed one iota since early Genesis. Think about it. Our human nature has not changed. Our sins are exactly the same. Hate, lust, envy, pride, and greed still abound. We have not developed a single new sin... not even one. However modern technological advances do allow us to sin more... quicker!
Another religion that is closely related to Humanism and that also enjoys widespread and growing popularity is the religion of Science. Like Humanism, Science, as a religion, is based on conceit and fueled by arrogance. Science also promotes man and denies a Creator God; but worships at the feet of it's own special deity, Evolution, a god with great credentials. No matter what our opinion as concerning the religion of Science, we must all admit that this god, Evolution, has a very impressive heritage. He possesses a power-packed pedigree... the pedigree of a champion.
Sired by "Big Bang" and out of "Black Hole," he was born almost half-grown. No need for swaddling clothes for this young giant. His birth, during the middle of the nineteenth century, was attended by Dr. Darwin, and hailed by scientists world-wide. Wise men came to worship and adore. Here was their saviour; ready to deliver them from the necessity to either believe in, or be obedient to, an Almighty God. He would lead them into a new era, to new heights. To that big laboratory in the sky.
And Evolution proved precocious. He grew fast. He developed quickly. He waxed strong. So that he has now become a very powerful and impressive young god with a huge, loyal following. Evolution is the only god that carries the official seal of approval of both the United States Public School System and the Federal Courts. He is both impressive and approved. Who could ask for anything more? However, there is a problem. He has a fault. A big fault. A serious, glaring fault. He is impotent!
This has to be embarrassing. The macho god is a dud. A daisy. He cannot perform. Who would have expected this? How very ironic, for Evolution's well-advertized specialty is the development of life. Now we learn that he can produce no life. None. He is sterile. Infertile. Unproductive. And no amount of vitamins, therapy, or hormones will help.
Evolution must rely totally on pre-existing life. Unless life is already present, he can do nothing. Without an environment already in place that is capable of supporting this life, Evolution is helpless. There must be sunlight, air, minerals, water, soil, and a favorable climate; plus, all the so-called natural laws. In other words, we must already have creation before Evolution can operate. And creation requires a Creator. Think about it.
Pity poor wimpy Evolution. His impotence has been found out. His inability has been discovered. He has been caught with his pants up, as it were. The shame of it all. And he seemed like such a nice god, too. Well, so much for appearances.
However, before we start feeling too sorry for young Evolution, we should realize that his followers hardly seem to notice his limitations. Faults are overlooked, and deficiencies ignored. True believers are like that. As a matter of fact, the ranks of his advocates continue to grow. Lack of performance obviously has very little to do with the standing of a god among the devout.
Otherwise, idols would tumble.
But idols do not fall easily; and even when they do take a spill, they usually rise again. The Phoenix emerges from the ashes. For idols are tough, gods are resilient, and religions have a stubborn persistence. Occasionally an old religion, which has somehow fallen into disfavor, will re-surface with a new name and a new look. The caterpillar becomes a butterfly. It is amazing what cosmetics, semantics, and innovative public relations can do.
THAT DEVIOUS DEVIL
Such is the case with the New Age movement. We used to know it as the Occult. That was blatant Satan. This is subtle Satan. But Satan, all the same. As a matter of fact, Satan is quite actively involved in almost every religion. Religions are his specialty... not just a hobby.
Since religions are mostly man-made; and, because Satan has such easy access to, and great influence over man... gaining control presents no particular problem. People are push-overs; Satan's tools and toys. We are both his agents and his victims. And religions provide people, power, prestige, and platforms... practically perfect for his pernicious plans. Is it any wonder that Satan loves religion? That devious Devil.
Did you ever wonder why almost everyone believes in Satan? Even those who profess no belief in God, rarely deny the existence of Satan. Lucifer lives. We are sure. We can sense it. We have no doubts. Debates are not required. Occasional gory headlines about bloody rituals or human sacrifices are not necessary to convince us. We need no proof. We know. For we encounter Satan daily. He messes with our minds and minds our messes. He excites emotions, and stirs Self. He fools with our feelings, and feels we are fools. He manipulates. He cajoles. He twists and distorts. He confuses. He accuses. He lies. But, mainly, he whispers temptations. And we listen.
God of course, does not operate in this manner. He never forces Himself on us. He does not meddle in our affairs. God has given us freedom of choice and He never violates this freedom. He just tells us what to do and turns us loose. We can do it our way...or His. The decision is ours. God has given us a book of instructions and also made available to us our own personal tutor and guide. However, accepting and utilizing this help is left strictly up to us. God offers truth, but will not cram it down our throats. He offers His arm, but will never twist ours.
But Satan has no such code. No limitations. No scruples. He abides by no rules. He is not above taking unfair advantage, twisting arms, or turning screws. But he does not normally have to rely on strong-arm tactics. For we follow willingly. Satan is a master of disguises, an expert at deception; even able to change himself into an "angel of light." He makes himself and his programs very attractive. And we are very gullible. This does not mean that we all worship Satan; most of us do not... not directly, anyway.
Raw Satanism is a little too crude, too rude, too bloody, too harsh to draw a tremendous amount of open support. However, most of the other religions sponsored by Satan do not suffer from this particular image problem. And anyway, he has a belief to suit every taste. Therefore, many of us have become followers without realizing what we have done. Satan does not care if we serve him intentionally and directly, or unknowingly and indirectly; front door or back door, he has us either way.
Every belief, religion, attitude, or philosophy that glorifies Self or denies God is a product of Satan. Without exception! This is very heavy stuff, and worthy of pondering. Every expression of self-will has been scripted by Satan. He caters to self-interest; encourages self-indulgence; and promotes self-importance. He uses our minds and works through our human nature. Since the carnal mind is, "enmity against God," Satan has a fertile field ready for his cultivation. And he grows the vigorous weed of Self, which bears the fruit called sin. A bitter fruit, but quite abundant.
Satan uses us. All of his work is performed by people. Think about it. Who robs, and rapes, and cheats, and kills? Not demons. Not evil spirits. But people. All of the Devil's dirtiest deeds are done by us. Self-expression, you might say. Satan takes full advantage of human nature and utilizes our predisposition to sin. We are willing workers. And we work cheap. As a matter of fact, we are usually the ones who pay.
All self-seeking can be very costly, and the self-interest applied to the debt is the compound kind. Vanity is the vehicle that propels Self, and Satan is the driver. Pride provides the power, and the whole operation appears quite efficient. Satan certainly gets a lot of mileage out of the arrangement.
Someone, trying to better understand this Satan-Self relationship, compared human nature to a violin, with Self being the bow, and Satan the musician. If so, Satan does not just fiddle around, but plays a real wicked tune. His favorite is probably "Devil's Dream."
Self is not just a plaything to Satan, Self is an extension of Satan. From the standpoint of results, Satan and Self are essentially synonymous. They are closer than ugly and ape. Self is a reflection of Satan. Or, turning it around, you might say that Satan is the personification of Self. Either way, for all practical purposes, the simplest way to spell Satan is S-E-L-F.
Throughout history, man has attempted to better understand and explain this connection, this affinity, this link between Satan and Self. Which, of course, has led to some novel deductions and interesting theories; some of which have found their way into certain religious dogma. However, as we all know, religion has a particular knack for complicating the simple, embroidering the plain, and obscuring the obvious.
This Satan-Self relationship is certainly an unholy alliance, but not nearly as much a mystery as we have been led to believe. The explanation is simple. For we only need to quit beating around the bush and admit the whole truth... unsavory as it might be... and it all becomes quite clear. The bottom line is, they are married! That is right... married. The old-fashioned kind of marriage that features shared effort and common goals. And a big family. However, there was no old-fashioned wedding involved.
Satan, you see, was not disposed to any such formalities with all the attached legal responsibilities and implied moral obligations. Anyway, flowers make him sneeze and vows give him hives. Besides, Satan was not exactly free... being already involved in a few billion other similar arrangements. So, he just moved in. Self and Satan have a common-law marriage. Is it surprising to find that Satan is living in sin?
This is not just a marriage of convenience or one of necessity, either. You see, Self truly loves Satan. She was fascinated by him from the start. And he was there from the very beginning, "beguiling" Eve in the Garden of Eden. He was called a serpent. So we tend generally to think of Satan in the Garden as a garter snake in an apple tree, hissing wicked persuasions from a lower limb. However, the original Hebrew word, "nachash," which has been translated in the Bible as serpent, does not really mean serpent... in fact, it gives no indication whatsoever of any physical form, size, shape, etc. Nachash means enchanter, magician, persuader, and of course, whisperer. There can be no doubt about this description ...this is Self's lover, no matter what form he uses; snake, preacher, or politician.
Even though Satan is a legendary lecher, Self remains stubbornly loyal. His flagrant infidelity seems to make absolutely no difference. For she is blind to his unfaithfulness. His charm can cover all kinds of conditions, and his flattering makes her forget his philandering. Satan's whispers are more powerful than king's commands. Tempting tid-bits. Luscious lies.
Self is a very devoted wife. She has proven to be loyal, obedient, co-operative, and fertile! You never saw a bigger, healthier family... and each youngster uglier than the next. We are not talking homely here... but genuine, double-dipped, stomped-down ugly! The whole bunch; Hate; Pride, Envy, Greed, Lust, Arrogance, Jealousy, Vanity, Appetite, and all the rest... ugly. But they sure are a vigorous bunch.
All sin is caused by some member of the Satan-Self family. Sometimes several members of the clan are involved. This is simple fact. Indisputable. However, it often becomes difficult to identify the individual culprits. They all look quite a bit alike. And then, their naming scheme is somewhat confusing. We generally tend to call them by their given names, but these common names are not their official names.
You see, because of the illegal nature of Satan and Self's relationship, all of their children are technically illegitimate. Therefore, applying the common-law regulation concerning the registration of bastards, they have been assigned their mother's name, not their father's, as their official, legal names. Hence, we find such names as Self-willed, Self-centered, Self-indulgent, Self-seeking, Self-righteous, etc. ...the dreaded "Self" tribe, and tons of trouble by any name.
Now, back to the basics: Satan controls Self. Self produces sin. And, with the exception of disease or natural disasters, sin causes all human misery and suffering. As a matter of fact, most of our diseases can be directly attributed to our self-indulgent lifestyle, which is also the primary means of their spread. Even some notable disasters, such as Noah's flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, were the direct result of sin. So: Satan + Self = Sin; Sin + People = Misery.
When Pogo stated, "We have met the enemy, and they is us;" he was just re-phrasing a truth that we have known for a few thousand years. Man is his own worst enemy. The primary problem of people is people.
PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE
People pollute. People provoke. People possess powerful prejudices. People pout. People promise. People pretend. People pull pranks. People prevaricate. People preen. People prance. People pursue power. People play politics. People profiteer. People plot. People prey. People pillage. People pilfer. People pander. People pimp. People prostitute. People promote porn. People practice perversion. People pop pills. People puff pot. People pay pushers. People plenty poor. People pledge property. People point pistols. People populate prisons. People produce poverty, pain, problems... and, more people. Man has always been the problem, but never the solution.
However, there is a solution. An extremely simple solution. Ten simple laws. God's laws. Laws that do not require us to do something difficult, but only to quit doing some things that are harmful to us. Laws based on attitude. Ten little laws that are so providently profound that they can solve every problem that man has managed to produce. As a matter of fact, these laws can be further distilled, consolidated, and summarized as just two basic laws: one, which has to do with our relationship to God; and the other, concerning our relationship to our fellow man. Love is the answer. Divine simplicity. God's ways are always simple, easy, uncomplicated and totally effective.
But we are not really looking for solutions... unless, of course, they happen to be our own pet ideas. Although we claim to be searching for answers, we deliberately avoid looking where answers may be found. When we pretend to seek after knowledge and pursue wisdom, we are just kidding ourselves. For most of us would rather run ten miles and climb a tree, rather than come face to face with the tiniest truth. We have become extremely skilled at eluding truth, evading wisdom, shunning knowledge, and dodging understanding. And, of course, we avoid God at all costs.
Therefore, we "look for truth," or "seek after meanings," or "search for God" in Eastern religions or in Western Psychology, in the stars or in the bars, in pentagrams or pyramids, in meditation or medication, in needles or Beatles, in pills and in powders, in bottles and beads, and chants and charts, and idols and icons, and fame and fortune, and fission and fusion, and in Jims or gems or gyms, or any other unlikely place. Our seeking is seldom serious until our situation is severely so.
However, when our ship starts to sink in the sharky sea... then we skip the nonsense and cry out to God. The crisis cry. The prayer of panic. We beg Him to save us. But, of course, as soon as we have survived the disaster, we promptly forget all about God... except, perhaps, to blame Him that something bad had happened in the first place.
Have you ever heard someone say, "If God is so powerful, why does He allow bad things to happen?"? This is either a dumb question or an ignorant complaint. However, many of us use it as our justification to go scurrying back to our various vanities.
Back to worshipping wealth, for instance. Every capitalistic society considers the worship of wealth as worthy and noble. Most of us never seem to realize that life does not consist of acquiring things and obtaining stuff, until it is too late; until we have spent our entire lives doing precisely that... acquiring things and obtaining stuff, "...getting and spending, we lay waste our power...."
In this grubby process of getting and grabbing, of earning and taking, of scheming and plotting, of pushing and shoving, we often lose much more than we gain. We usually lose our families, our friends, our health, and our reputations; and, perhaps, even our wealth, too. In fact, with divorces, lawsuits, bad investments, accidents, catastrophic diseases, fires, floods, robberies, swindles, the I.R.S., and whatever; we are fortunate to have enough money left for a proper funeral. Occasionally, however, a few manage to die with their wealth still intact; and these leave the most lethal legacy of all... a large inheritance.
Although most of us recognize that being born rich must be a real handicap, and all; we still believe that it is a handicap that we could learn to endure. We could live with it. We could really live with it! However, being rich brings along some requirements that we may not have realized. The rich have their own special deity. They are expected to worship the elusive God, called Fashion.
Following fickle Fashion has traditionally been the prerogative of the really rich, while the rest of us could only watch wistfully from a distance. However, with the advent of affluence came the new-rich, would-be rich, and credit card rich. Now almost everyone can afford the treble-tithe required of the true believer. And many of us find ourselves on the torturous trek through shops, malls, and boutiques; as we make our pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Chic.
But the worship of Fashion can also be dangerous, for there are many maladies that beset the devout; such as "credit card cut-off cramps," or the "bulge-bottom blues." And of a slightly more serious nature are the several similar symptoms summarized as the "out-of-style syndrome." However, the worst affliction of all is the dreaded "fickle-fashion fear;" which manifests itself in horrible nightmares. There is no known cure.
These are recurring nightmares of the most terrifying type. In them, the victim (usually female) finds herself invited to the Royal wedding, or some other grand social event, and is even given a seat of honor. However, when she sits on the cushion provided, she discovers to her absolute horror that it is a turbo-charged whoopee cushion! And when she has suddenly become the focus of all eyes (plus the camera lens from Womens Wear Daily), she realizes that she is wearing a lavender tank top and chartreuse hot-pants...with the Sears tag still prominently displayed. She immediately turns a bright red all the way down past her bobby sox to her penny loafers... from Penney's, of course; and grabbing her K-Mart purse, she runs screaming through the startled crowd. She is still screaming when she awakes with palpitating heart and soggy with sweat. A sad sight.
And sadder still is the fact that variations of this pathetic little scenario are actually acted out many times every day. The more senseless and silly something is, the more certain that someone will seek after it. Lost causes hold a curious fascination for many. Man is attracted to the hopeless and hollow, to the temporary and transient. We have a weakness for that which is mindless and meaningless. But there is no demand for wisdom. None.
Why else would we worship Youth? For we already know that Youth is fleeting. Even though Youth is wasted on the young, they are the only ones who can ever possess it. No amount of face-lifts will ever change that.
And why do we woo Lady Luck and carry her charms? Obviously, our rabbit's foot never brought much luck to the original owner... yet he had four times as many!
Some of us have joined the religion of Physical Fitness and offer up sacrifices of sweat, and steroid incense to the Big Barbell. The more dedicated our worship, the sooner we ruin our health. This is not smart.
Then there are others who get on the health-food kick, and develop a morbid fear of cholesterol (while completely and totally ignoring the fact that Eskimos live on blubber for almost all of their unusually long lives). So they join the Vegetarian religion, and are soon doing obeisance to the Great Carrot. Their very vocal self-righteousness can be particularly annoying to those of us who appreciate our canine teeth... who prefer prime rib to parsley, and turkey to tofu. And their strident theme of, "You are what you eat," does not ring every bell, either. Who wants to be a brussels sprout, anyway?
Vegetarians are not uncommon in the world scheme of things, with the greatest concentration being found among the Eastern religions. India alone has several hundred million, primarily Hindus. These, are intentional vegetarians... sticking to caste from first to last. However, in Africa and several other places, we find millions more that are vegetarians by necessity. There is nothing else to eat... and few veggies either. Famine is one thing, but a religion of starvation is quite another.
It is difficult to understand why these religions which promote poverty, dignify begging, and encourage anemia, have gained so much popularity. What is the attraction? Many people are concerned with avoiding these very things; poverty, hunger, and the need to beg. Of course, most American followers of Eastern religions are very well fed. And it may be of some significance to note that the idols associated with these religions also show absolutely no signs of malnutrition. There is no hunger in their ranks. They are ample, indeed.
In fact, did you ever see a skinny idol? Certainly not. Because an idol must give the impression of substance, success, and strength in order to appear worthy of worship. Most idols are rather portly. Take Buddha, for instance.
Do you really think Siddhartha Gautama actually weighed 842 pounds? Of course, in a religion based on begging, it is only fitting to have an impressively-pudgy role model. Gaunt would never work. How could anyone take a scrawny idol seriously? Anyway, we all know that bigger is better, and plumper is preferable. Unless, of course, the subject is beauty contests or portable computers.
However, there could actually be a place for thin idols; a practical use for the lean and trim type. A skinny idol might be just the ticket for heavyweight folks. How about Saint Anorexia as the patron saint for all the obese? The dieter's deity. Low-fat. Sugar-free. A nice little toothpick statue could be housed in a matchbox shrine glued to the dashboard of the family car. Then, when all the plump people get stuck in traffic, they could pray to their patron and thereby utilize time that would be otherwise wasted. Perhaps a cottage industry might even spring up, just to make these practical little idols and shrines. Would that not be nice?
Sure. Nice and dumb. Also, silly and ridiculous. Just as a great many of the things we humans do are silly, or stupid, or ridiculous. People are dumber than anybody. But, there is hope for silliness, and ignorance can be cured. Stupidity, however, is terminal. There is no defense against it. And all idolatry is stupid.
Idol worship is idle worship. An exercise in futility, "...vanity of vanities, all is vanity." An idol does not see nor hear, and cannot feel or understand. We all know that. No idol ever gave the breath of life or answered the smallest prayer. We all know that, too. Then why would we waste our time with empty, useless, idol worship? Because idols are not demanding, for one thing. They issue no orders, and give no commandments. We like that. And we can craft them to suit ourselves. Tailored to fit. Custom made. What could be better? Perhaps a mirror??? Maybe a full-length mirror would help to focus on the idol that we truly worship?
SO, HOW BIG IS GOD?
Now, back to our question, how big is God? Big enough to be everywhere and always. The Creator of the universe can call every star by name. Of course, the name-calling that we are familiar with is considerably different, and the stars that we recognize are those that adorn the covers of scandal magazines... in fact, most of us could neither recognize nor name the very few stars of our own solar system. However, star gazing scientists, using ever more powerful telescopes and technology, have decided that there are probably several billion solar systems! And they postulate that space is endless. So, how big is God?
God"s handiwork can also be seen (but only if you have unusually good vision) in the quarks that constitute the sub-atomic nuclear particles of which neutrons and protons are composed. Perhaps these quarks have quirks? Only God knows. God's work is both infinitely complex and amazingly simple. Man is quite incapable of comprehending his Maker. Most of us do not even begin to understand many of the things that we have been told about the Eternal in His Word...things like the three-fold nature of God, for instance.
Does God have a split personality? How can Jesus be God if He is "the only begotten Son of God"? And if Jesus the Christ was a man, then how is He also God? And if Jesus was the result of the "overshadowing" of the virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit; then, would He not be God's grandson... or, perhaps, God's nephew? And what about the Holy Ghost? Is that the name we have applied to the residual aura remaining when a "good" person dies? Ignorant questions are the fodder that feed the foolish. Can anyone deny that we are a well-fed society?
Understanding comes from wisdom... and not from knowledge. Wisdom is rare. God's Word tells us that wisdom is the principal thing and more to be desired than silver or gold. Wisdom is not reserved for a particular ethnic group or some certain secret society, and neither is it the result of endless study. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and wisdom is a gift that is only available to those who seek it with their whole hearts. So... God gives wisdom and wisdom nourishes understanding.
Accumulated knowledge is of little value without being accompanied by understanding. Encyclopedias are of no use if written in a foreign language. What good is your new
car... if you do not have a key? Knowledge, especially manâ€™s knowledge... quite often sidetracks us from our quest for wisdom. One with a Ph.D., yet lacking in wisdom, would be more valuable to his fellow man as a Post Hole Digger. Education is important, but should not be worshipped. Remember, Thomas Edison had a very limited formal education, and Abraham Lincoln had absolutely none.
None of the heroes of the Bible were graduates of Yale, M.I.T., or Cambridge. They did not attend theological seminaries or Land-Grant universities. They were mostly common people. Peter, James, John, and Andrew were just fisherman. David was a shepherd boy. Ester was a slave girl, Moses, although educated in Pharoah's household, had to be re-programmed for 40 years on the back side of the desert before God could use him. Abraham was a nomad. Mary was a peasant girl. Ruth was a widow, an in-law, and an exile. Hannah was just a housewife. Elisha and Gideon were both farmers. John the Baptist came out of the wilderness. Most of the prophets seemed to just appear out of the hills with little to recommend them... other than God's appointment. And, I seem to remember a certain Carpenter's Son...!
Since wisdom is the recognition of truth and the application thereof... it should not be surprising that much of the scant supply can be found in rural areas. Daily contact with the natural things of Godâ€™s creation stimulates common sense; which, in turn, is the primary precursor for wisdom. To the world, rural is the realm of rubes, red-necks, and rustics. However, the world's assessments have rarely been accurate. For instance, the wisest people I ever met lived in the Blue Ridge area of the Appalachian Mountains. It was one of these simple mountaineers that gave me the key to understanding the three-fold nature of God... the so-called Trinity. Water! That's right... water. Simple. Profound. Not red-neck rhetoric, but basic Bubba brilliance!
Think about it. Water appears in three forms; liquid, ice, and steam. But they are all the same thing... water! Remember the story of creation? God created the heavens and the earth, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God hovered over the waters. What is the point? Just this. Water was here from the very beginning. Water was here before the earth had form. Before there was sun or moon or light. Before there was life, water was here. Water had to be here first, for water is essential for life. Nothing lives... neither plant nor animal... without the presence of water!
Is this some sort of watered-down theology? Not at all. Just a few simple facts to help us slower ones. Ice, as we all know, is the solid form of water, just as Jesus came as the tangible form of God. Ice has great power (What about the Ice Ages? And remember the Titanic?), and ice also refreshes and preserves! See what I mean? Now, what about steam? Just as the Holy Spirit is more readily felt than seen... so is steam. And steam has tremendous power... for heating, cooking, cleaning, and propelling. Wow! And liquid water is absolutely essential for all life. Period. Do you recognize "Living Water"!?
Am I saying that God is water? Of course not. I am merely using the example of something that we understand to help us grasp a concept that we do not understand. This analogy of water might dilute some things that would otherwise be too hard to swallow. This is just simple mountain wisdom... and it is absolutely free!
So, how big is God? A million times bigger than our ability to comprehend, but small enough to live in our hearts.