2/8/18 Daniel about 35
Years ago, I had the privilege of serving for a summer at the Tenwek Hospital in western Kenya. The area was very underdeveloped at the time, and I remember visiting a grocery store that sold mostly staples – rice, beans, sugar, etc., and perhaps a couple types of breakfast cereal, a handful of flavors of pop, etc. Options were limited to say the least.
I became friends with a young man my age – Johnson Kamau, and we kept in touch over the years. He was involved in ministry, first with the migratory Masai peoples as a Bible translator and then as a pastor. He eventually came to study and live here in the United States. I will never forget picking him up at the airport in Detroit on his first visit, and the look on his face when I brought him to a local Walmart with long aisles filled with every type of product choice imaginable. I saw through his eyes the unimaginable options our culture takes for granted.
I was reminded of this in a conversation with a truck driver named Daniel at a local McDonalds. Daniel believes in God in general but has many of his own theories and ideas of what He is like, many taken here and there from the different beliefs on the internet, and he has little to no religious or Bible background.
Daniel clearly stated something that many in our culture actually believe without saying it so plainly. “God should just allow us to choose what we want to believe about Him, rather than forcing us to believe he is a certain way.”
So he believes should be able form their own image of God, based on preferential choice? That’s called idolatry. Instead of statues, we form images or ideas about God that we are more comfortable with.
I might blame it on Starbucks for its over 87,000 different drink combination choices, but it goes much further back than that, long before our American rugged individualism and insistence on personal choice, long before the obsessive insistence on man’s creativity on display during the renaissance, all the way back to Adam and Eve’s insistence on choosing their own sense of morality rather than God’s.
God gives us unlimited outlets for creativity in a life lived in gratitude toward Him. But choosing how we will design our own version of God himself isn’t one of them. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24