Mars was the god of war; Ceres, the goddess of grain; Bacchus, the god of wine (we could also call them by their Greek names: Ares, Demeter, and Dionysus). The god of beginnings and endings was Janus. Hestia was the god of the hearth. Abeona cared for pregnancy and infancy. Amphyctyonis was the goddess of friendship between nations.
Ancient worshippers called on these deities to protect them, or to prosper them. They sacrificed to placate these gods, to insure success in a field of endeavor.
Making the beginning of business? Sacrifice to Janus. Concerned about a difficult pregnancy? Abeona is the god for you. Hoping for success on the field of battle? Pay a visit to the temple of Mars.
A god for politics?
These days, it would seem that people think that YHWH, the god of the Bible (also known as Yahweh, Jehovah, or the LORD), is a god for politics. His blessing is invoked on the nation. People pray to him when they open proceedings. We talk about needing to enact his will in government, to make him pleased with our country so we won’t suffer his wrath.
But the trouble is that YHWH, Israel’s god, is no pagan deity. He doesn’t take sides. He’s not about our agenda, no matter how much we pray to him. He’s neither Republican nor Democrat; conservative, nor liberal; capitalist nor socialist. He’s on his own side. He’s got his own agenda.We are freed to see #God and his #goodnews. Click To Tweet
Regrettably, though, too many of us believe that God is on our side when it comes to politics.
God is the god of our party, the god of our ideology, the god of our economics. We act as though our created systems enjoy the full blessing and unique endorsement of the creator God. We pretend that God’s will, which is good, and pleasing, perfect, is perfectly captured, perfectly summed up, perfectly expressed in our political, or ideological, or economic theories.
We have taken the god of the Bible and appropriated him to serve us and our agenda.
We’ve taken him and made him our patron saint, the one we need to placate, the one who’ll make us successful.
We’ve made of him an idol, a little deity who will vouchsafe our governmental or economic policies, or our ideological philosophies.
We’ve taken his book and used it to vindicate our political, social, and personal prejudices.
We’ve taken his name and made it the ultimate ratification for our own ideological aims.
In short, we have made God an idol to serve us.
So if not a god of politics, who is YHWH?
In his magnificent volume Simply Good News, N.T. Wright describes an incident in which he saw a book entitled The God I Want: “I shuddered. Such a god must be an idol. If we ever get to the point where we say, ‘There! There’s a God you can believe in!’ we will know at once that we have fitted the idea of God into a preexisting gap in our minds.”
God, the true god, YHWH the creator of the universe and all that is within it, cannot be neatly fitted into any ideology, political agenda or economic theory.
“Philosophy tidies things up,” Wright goes on to say. “Israel’s God blows his fresh wind and scatters things about the room that humans had just sorted out. He is not, in other words, imprisoned in any human system. He is not merely a god. He is God.”#God cannot be neatly fitted into any ideology, political agenda or economic theory. Click To Tweet
Rather, YHWH, the god of Israel, stands apart from these things, causing us to ask hard questions of our precious perspectives and challenging the error inherent to any merely human creation. When this happens we are freed from the narrow, limited points of view which we have created, and to which we cling with the tenacity that only God deserves. We are freed to see God and his good news.
God is no mere deity. He does not endorse party or ideology or system. He comes to proclaim the good news: that the one who created the world also loves the world, and, through Jesus, intends to restore and renew the world.
And we are invited to be a part of that!
Let us not limit God; let us not make of him and idol unto our purposes. Let us be used unto his.
Also published on Medium.