False or Malfunctioning?
For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe. (Deuteronomy 10:17)
Give thanks to the God of gods, For His lovingkindness is everlasting. (Psalms 136:2)
I am continuing my pursuit of seeking to understand better the first commandment that says we should not have any other gods before the one true God. Last time I explored a little more of just what a god is all about to some extent and discovered that a god is anything or anyone that adds value to my life or helps to give me identity. Because that seems to be the fundamental purpose of a god and the reasons that people have invented gods throughout the history of the world, then given the way the first commandment is worded it would seem that there just may be a legitimate place for other gods in God's organization of creation.
Aside from the fact that many false gods are terrible distortions of the truth about God and should have no place in our lives whatsoever, I am starting to realize that maybe we have missed a great deal of truth by putting so much emphasis on avoiding other gods altogether or even denying that they exist. Given the above definition of a god, it would only make sense that there may be more than one source through which God intends to inform us of our real value and to improve and strengthen our sense of a secure identity. The core problem we face may not be so much as to whether other gods exist but in our view of them or the way we feel about them.
I pointed out previously that very young children automatically view their parents as God initially. I don't think this is outside of God's plan. He gives to parents the awesome responsibility to represent Him as accurately as possible to their offspring and to all young children for that matter. We are to be God's representatives on this earth, and the way we treat others is always reflective of how we feel that God relates to us. Of course that has always been distorted to some extent and we all fail in this responsibility to the extent that we misperceive the way God feels about us.
The problem is, most of the time we don't even know how much we are misrepresenting God because we believe that our opinions about God are mostly true and accurate. Because of that it is often very hard for God to change our opinions and feelings about Him because our flawed views of God are so deeply entrenched in religious traditions and practices. To embrace the real truths about God requires that one get out of step with most religion in this world which inevitably causes one to encounter enormous resistance by pretty much everyone around them. This is the result that sin has caused in our world.
But if we are to represent God to others and particularly to our children, then in effect we have been assigned the job of being little gods. At first this may sound like heresy, but upon reflection it really makes a lot of sense. We are created in the image of God. To then deny that we should look like the One in who's image we are created is to deny our own purpose and identity for the sake of accommodating the prejudices of those around us. Why shouldn't we be gods and be reflectors of the true glory of the God who created us in His image? Jesus Himself stated very plainly that “you are all gods.”
When this truth is finally accepted and embraced, we then face the next step – how should we live and function and relate to others in this strange role we may have never considered before?
I am coming to realize that this is really about an issue of priorities. If we finally begin to realize that there just may be a place for gods in the order of creation that God has set up, then it becomes vitally important to understand how to relate to them the way God intends for us to do if we are to come back into the design that was in place originally. Salvation is all about the restoration of creation to its original design, intent and function along with all in humanity who are willing to cooperate.
So if, as implied in the first commandment, we may well be designed to fill the role of acting as gods for others around us, then maybe instead of spending so much time trying to fight the idea of gods we should be interested to learn how to fulfill our God-appointed roles as sources of value for others and be people who affirm and increase other's sense of identity in Christ. As true Christians we are to live 'in Christ' which means that our own identity and value are totally bound up with that of Jesus Christ. The gospel is the truth of this reality that needs to be shared with those who still live feeling valueless and have little sense of identity as a cherished child of God.
Rather than focus on avoiding false gods or attempting to deny that other gods may exist, we need to begin to see how much we are malfunctioning in our roles as gods and to reconnect with the true example who showed us how to live in total dependence on the one true God. Jesus came to this earth to demonstrate what it looks like to live as a god, to cause all around Him to feel valuable if they were willing to believe the truth of how much God values all of us.
Jesus came to bring to light our true identity as children of the heavenly royal family and all of the privileges and responsibilities that go along with that. Jesus came to recapture the role of representative of this planet that was lost by Adam and Eve when they surrendered it to Satan. In exposing Satan as a fraud, a thief and a murderer, Jesus took over the role that had originally been given to Adam as the head of all humanity. Now as humans we are to view Jesus Christ as our true Father of the human race, not Adam.
In turn, as members of Christ's body we are to represent Him to those around us. The very word 'Christian' originated as a derisive term meant to jeer at those who were so obsessed with Christ their Savior that they were called 'little Christ's'. The term stuck but now it has lost its original meaning as it has just become another label. But as 'little Christs', it only stands to reason that this concept would also include acting like Christ, who was Himself God and came to reveal God to us. Thus we could just as easily be called 'little gods'.
Thus it seems to me that if we are open-minded enough to reconsider our assumptions about gods, it may be a whole new field of valuable study to explore just what it means to live as a god, a source, or more accurately a channel to others, to help them realize and experience the immense value that God wants them to know as His beloved children. We are to do everything possible to convey to others the glorious identity that they have in Christ as people redeemed from the false identity that sin has deceived us into believing about ourselves.
Being a little god does not necessarily mean that we have to be in competition with the one true God as many might assume. I am now seeing that living as a subordinate god under the influence of the true God in heaven, we are to simply live out the life that Jesus lived when He came to this earth living totally dependent on His Father God in heaven. Instead of arguing the legitimacy of whether or not gods exist or even should exist, I now realize that we need to explore and experience what it means to live in proper relationship to God so as to represent Him more accurately as those created in the image of God.
So what does it look like to live as a god in proper relationship to the true God?
The only way we can live as gods the way that God designed us to is to first of all come much closer to perceiving the true God accurately instead of through all the distortions that the enemy has insinuated into our conceptions of Him. God has declared that He is love. If we are faithful little gods in His family then we will be known and perceived as full of that same love. Now isn't that interesting. Jesus said something very compelling along that same line.
"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35)
I believe that as we come to live in our role of gods properly, our lives are going to closely reflect the way Jesus treated people and the way He related to His Father. Jesus was an amazing source of value for all who felt empty, shamed, worthless and humiliated. Jesus gave them unconditional love and acceptance which shocked and even angered many of the religious crowd. They believed that religion was all about rules and punishments and performance and that value was based on how well one could align themselves with God's checklists. Yet Jesus came and revealed a completely different mode of relating and valuing, and that way of living is still very unpopular even today.
Jesus focused on heart work with people. He addressed the inner feelings and emotions and the deep pains that caused so much damage to people's self-perceptions. Instead of condemning people for their short-comings and unlikeness to God, He sought to inspire them with the revelation that God valued them immensely, even infinitely from His viewpoint. Jesus brought to anyone willing to accept Him the truth that they could be encased in a whole new identity different than anything they had ever thought about before. They could be free of false identities that had been imposed on them by others or from their own feelings of condemnation from false perceptions of God. If they would simply believe the love that Jesus was showing them and put their trust in the God who had already forgiven them and loved them all along, they would experience a whole new identity as sons and daughters of their Father in heaven and would be empowered to live a new life with the Spirit of Jesus dwelling inside of them.
This is the heart of the gospel. Indeed we are all gods whether we believe it or not. The real question is, are we living as gods who reflect the true God who is love and compassion and mercy and justice, or are we misrepresenting God by reflecting the assertions of His enemy Satan who has filled the world and our hearts with myriads of false notions about what He is like?
Are we willing to embrace our roles as true gods, witnesses to the true God, or are we going to continue to operate as false gods, seeking to strip away value from others, question their identity or impose false standards of measurement on all around us? If we think that our value is based on our performance or achievements or beliefs, then we are functioning as false gods. If we are willing to receive and pass along the real truth that God values each of us infinitely as revealed in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, then we will be empowered by His life living within us to live our own lives as little gods reflecting His true love and goodness and beauty and attractiveness to all around us.
The choice is ours: the power is God's.