We must put away the little gods if God within us is to be revealed.
“On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning,
with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast.
Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire.
The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain….
And God spoke all these words:
‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…’ ”
-Exodus 19:16-20; 20:1-5
“When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the Testimony, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God…
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I have commanded them and have made for themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and have sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’ ”
-Exodus 31:18; 32:7,8 (Italics mine)
The great and awesome power of the holy God that descended that day upon Mount Sinai and violently shook the entire mountain is the same great and awesome power of the holy God that is dwelling within Christian believers through the presence of the Holy Spirit today!
Through the power of the God of holiness dwelling within us, a tremendous opportunity is awaiting us. It is the opportunity to eradicate our unholy thoughts, to put to death our unholy motives. Yet, even with such a fortunate and blessed opportunity available to us, we continue to be blinded by our self-indulgent focus on the little gods in our lives. It is a spiritual blindness of our own choosing. An impairment that increases in severity according to the sightless choices we continue to make.
As long as we continue to wander in this state of spiritual blindness, we cannot access the spiritual power necessary to overcome the multitude of little gods we have chosen to worship.
And so, the little gods continue to rule in the hearts of men.
Exposing the little gods
We have embraced the little gods and they have embraced us.
The little gods have whispered many promises to us. They have told us that they want to help us. That they will make us whole and happy! The little gods can get us almost anything we want. Because the little gods are everywhere. They are very convenient, always available, easily obtainable. They are the fast food of the soul. They help us to control the circumstances of our lives. They guide and protect us, comfort and soothe us. They even help to satisfy our fleshly desire for the respect and admiration of others. Who could blame us for embracing the little gods?!
The little gods on the Outside
All the things apart from God that I depend upon to gain attention, recognition, admiration, respect, acceptance or self-esteem can become my little gods:
the style of the clothes I wear,
the car I drive,
the house I buy,
the area of town in which I live,
the type of haircut that I get,
the toys that I own,
the way I play with the toys that I own,
the designer glasses I wear on my face or the colored contacts on my eyes,
the way I talk,
even the way I walk,
the places I choose to eat,
the people I hang around with,
the demonstration of my physical abilities,
the proficiency of my mental capabilities,
the quality of my verbal eloquence,
the way in which I spend my money,
the way in which I earn my money,
the way in which I invest my money,
the financial security from my money,
the charities to which I have given my money,
the funny jokes I tell,
the interesting gossip I spread,
the advantageous lies I advance,
the fascinating stories I share,
the important job I have,
the prestigious club to which I belong,
the important organization I lead,
the Spirit-filled church I go to,
the sacrifices I have made,
the things I have accomplished by the work of my own hands,
my years of dedicated service to the church,
the volunteer work I have done,
the ritzy places I shop,
the name-brand makeup I wear,
the gold jewelry that adorns me,
the furnishings in the house in which I live,
the special kind of pet I own,
the popular guy I go out with,
the pretty girl I date,
the successful husband I have married,
the prize wife I have wed,
the hobbies I participate in,
the education I have earned,
the parties I am invited to,
the people who admire me,
the people who are envious of me,
the people who want to be near me,
the reputation I have among my peers,
my boss’s opinion of me,
my pastor’s opinion of me,
my wife’s opinion of me,
anyone’s opinion of me,
and the list goes on and on…
How many little gods do you worship? 1Cor. 8:5,6)
Jesus said, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
-Mark 12: 28-34 ( Italics mine)
The little gods on the Inside
Anything or anybody apart from God that we desire or depend upon to try to gain control, avoid rejection or establish personal pride can also become our little god. Even through the workings of our emotions:
When I am angry, my anger becomes my little god. My little anger god helps me get my way! He advises me on how long to be angry with someone in order to punish him or her into submission to my will.
When I am fearful, my own fear can become my little god. I can depend upon my fear to protect me from that which I am afraid of! He will show me where to hide and how to avoid what I am afraid of. My little god of fear keeps me safe!
When I lust, the object of my lust becomes my little god. The little god that is the object of my lust helps to kindle a passionate desire within me. By surrendering to this passion, I can experience a temporary sense of sufficiency within my soul. I feel so alive! Conveniently, the little god that is the object of my lust is almost always accompanied by the little god of temporary happiness. I feel so complete – for a little while.
When I am clumsy or inept before you and I become embarrassed, you become my little god. I fear your rejection, so I am embarrassed and you become my little god.
When I am prideful, I become my own little god. And all of my accomplishments, they are little gods too!
When I am envious of someone, the person I am envious of becomes my little god. Or the things that person has.
When I am rebellious toward authority, I can always count on my little gods, dissension and factions, to undermine my adversaries. They will cleverly operate behind the scenes to protect me from reprisal!
When I become intoxicated, drugs become my little gods. And they introduce me to so many other little gods. Like the little gods of thievery and lies. The little gods of thievery and lies help me to continue to enjoy my little god of drugs!
When I seek the approval of another person in order to feel that I am valuable, that person becomes my little god. I must strive, compete, posture, and perform in the hope that the person who has become my little god will find me acceptable.
In little gods we trust
The little gods have become an integral part of the way we think and the way we feel about ourselves and about life. Our dependence upon the little gods has brought about a familiar definition of life and self. To forsake all of our little gods would be to forsake most of how we feel, think, and act from day to day. We do not naturally desire to be separated from the familiarity of our behaviors and beliefs. Familiarity feels to us like safety.
If we are honest with God and with ourselves, we will admit that we don’t really want to stop depending upon all the little gods. To stop depending upon them entirely would mean that we would have to stop depending upon ourselves – and our own determinations to get what we want, when we want it! That is how we have always endeavored to feel safe and comfortable and satisfied with ourselves.
Besides, we reason, what would life be like without all the little gods? Who would we be? How would we feel? What would we do? Would we ever have fun anymore?
Though we may possess all of these doubts, the fact is, we simply don’t get to know all the answers before we begin to seek freedom from our dependence upon the little gods. If we truly desire freedom, we don’t get to be in control anymore. In fact, it’s all about giving up control.
Going on a little god hunt
We begin to give up self-centered control of our life by being willing to forsake our little-god centered daily determinations. We must cry out to God for His truth and respond to the Holy Spirit’s conviction regarding our idolatrous dependence upon the little gods. Only then, can we actively repent of our misdirected desires, by asking and depending upon the power of the Holy Spirit to put to death our self-centered dependence upon the little gods. With the Spirit’s light, we can hunt down the myriad of little gods in our lives. And we can turn each one over to the Spirit of Holiness to destroy.
The little gods do not want you to believe this message. Without you, they have no purpose, no playground, no podium. A part of you does not want to believe this message either. The part of you that is enticed, deceived, and ruled by the little gods. After all, you’ve been the way you are for a long time. It’s the way you feel most of the time. It’s the way you think most of the time. But if that way is the way of the little gods, it is not the way of the big God.
The big God wants our souls to be freed from their addictions to the little gods. Freed to be re-formed into the likeness of the character of Christ. And as we become less and less like the way we have always been, we become more and more like the way we were always meant to be.
To be like Jesus – that’s the big God’s plan.
He who has God and everything else”, an old Puritan saying goes, “has no more than he who has God alone.”
Copyright © 2000 by R. Thomas Brass
All rights reserved