Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Out of the Box

Idolatry is a subtle thing. Perhaps it's not easy to see it that way with so many biblical era examples tending toward the huge and over the top: the Temple of Artemis, Jupiter Capitolinus, Nebuchadnezzar's Golden Statue, Dagon, and Aaron's magical calf (i.e. spontaneously generated by the earrings in, idol out method). If only it were so obvious, it would be no danger to any of us.

However, Aaron's excuse was not as far-fetched as it may seem, for idolatry can catch us unaware, subtlely. We think we're doing the right thing, getting along with our brothers and sisters, living cooperatively in community, going with the flow, giving props to God for what we're doing. All the while, we're really dropping an earring here and an earring there into the cauldron, pacing through an exercise that ends in us kneeling before what isn't actually God. If we get caught in time, we have no more of an answer as to why than Aaron had.

How did we get there? We were just keeping it real, getting it done. We were managing. And there it is, the culprit hiding in the wide open--managing. We like to manage things, to tidy them up, and control them, to pack them in a box and know where there are and where they belong. Add God to the mix and he gets boxed like everything else we have to deal with in life. As long as our God is small enough to be managed by us; we can keep him near, even sit on him, and feel safe, secure and holy, and not even realize the god we're worshipping is one of our own making.

Idolaters will not inherit the kingdom of God. Makes you wonder if it's worth having a god who fits in a box, doesn't it? Who's managing who in your fellowship with God? Maybe it's time to be still and let him be God. Cut the tape, open the flaps, and let God out of the box!