Whose Image?

Uncanny how closely God resembles ourselves these days. We consistently whittle Him down to size, as if the Almighty is under our thumb and not the other way around. We remain in constant danger of remaking God according to our own image; there is no longer room for an Wholly Other. We encounter fierce rebuke in holy writ, only to worm and squirm our way to a more palatable position. Imperatives are neutered into suggestions; precepts become culturally conditioned preferences. We ridicule those whose ethics emerge from an “everyone else is doing it” attitude, while choosing our own allegiances and establishing what passes for values along much the same line of reasoning. When God offends, we let Him off the hook by shrugging aside the intended course correction and proceed down our own self-determined path.

What in the world are we thinking? The Church of Jesus Christ stands in jeopardy of succumbing to peer pressure as she bends to cultural winds in the guise of remaining relevant. Relevance is essential; trendy is absurd. How long will we obscure holiness? Jeremiah wouldn’t fare so well in our current setting. Elisha would gather a crowd for a time, but numbers would fall off with every “thus saith the Lord.” John the Baptist would be ostracized for being politically incorrect, and Jesus Himself wouldn’t stand a chance. We prefer our savior to be ornamental, certainly not meddlesome in our affairs or demand set-apartness. Friendship is far more palatable than slavery, yet the disciple image cast by Scripture is exactly that—Christ is Master and I am His. This master-slave relationship fundamentally forces us out of sync with popular culture; we cannot remain lockstep with the world while marching under the banner of Christ.

“We are always looking for a religion that has no demands, only rewards—a religion that bedazzles and entertains, in which there is no waiting and no emptiness. And we can usually find someone around who will help us make up some sort of a golden calf” (Eugene Peterson, Every Step an Arrival).

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