It’s easy to criticize, that’s why I do it. I’m lazy. When I read about pagans worshipping their gods I criticize. Pagans only worship their idols for some sort of material gain. Their worship is really just an attempt to gain control over things that they normally can not control such as: timely rain, the gender of their children, safety from natural disasters, victory in war and so on. Those lazy pagans also pray for things they can control but prayer seems like the short cut: victory in war, prosperity, good health, etc. Whereas we Christians …. Uh, wait a minute.
While Moses was on Mount Sinai Aaron made a golden calf and told the people ‘this is the god that brought you out of Egypt’. There really was a God that brought the people out of Egypt but he didn’t look like a calf and though he is responsible for fertility, orgies are not the way to worship him. Aaron had taken the real God (as Christians and Jews see it) and made him into an idol. I believe that in many ways I also have treated God like an idol. I don’t make an image of my God because my language and education have already trained my mind to think in the abstract. I also don’t worship God by having orgies though I’m willing to try it if you can convince me that orgies are something that would please God. The point I’m making is that just because our Christian God is real it does not mean that we do not treat him like an idol.
One characteristic of an idol is that is always at risk of being superseded. If an idol doesn’t answer your prayers then you can get a new one. The pagan world is like a market place of gods. If this one doesn’t answer your prayer you switch to that one and if that one demands too much in the way of obeisance there is always another god vying for your business. Idols were not very good at answering prayers so that is why so many of them asked for sex as a form of worship. Sex is very popular with the customers. If there is only one God, as we Christians believe then God has a monopoly. Like all monopolies, God is under no market place pressure to answer prayers or change his demands to please the customers.
I am pretty sure that there are many ways that I have treated the God of the Bible as if he were a pagan god. I believe that many of my prayers had an implied condition attached to them that said ‘if you don’t answer my prayers I’ll get another god’. In my case that ‘other god’ would not have been a supernatural god, it would have been a philosophical god but it would have been my god just the same. I have never been one to ask God to lower his standards. I like the Christian way, high standards with forgiveness for failure. The only exception is the ‘love your enemy’ and the ‘forgive others as God has forgiven you’ commands. I am not fond of those commands at all but so far at least I am willing to live with them in order to get eternal life.
Ah yes, eternal life. There is one way that God himself seems to condone his worshippers treating him like an idol. ‘like an idol’ in this case means ‘with crass commercial motives’. God seems to be okay with us coming to him only so we can live forever. There is a part of me that wishes I were capable of following God out of pure motives. God is good shouldn’t we be able to worship and more importantly obey God just because it is the right thing to do – Apparently not. Just another thing to be humble about I suppose.