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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pigeon-hole gods

Most of us live by some unwritten code which implies rules are for breaking, not for keeping.  There is just some inward "pull" to break a few rules once in a while.  Yesterday we began to look at the sensibility of "following the rules" God sets out for us.  His first "rule" was very clearly stated:  No other god but me.  His second is almost along the same line, but with a little different "twist":


4 “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea."  
(Exodus 20:4 New Living Translation)

No other god but me focused on any affection or attention we directed toward another person or pursuit which clearly took our affection and attention off God himself.  Today's "rule" deals with trying to pigeon-hole God into a box which fits our "image" of what he should be like.

Let me elaborate a little.  God warned against creating some "graven image" - carved sculpture or the like - which we'd look upon and form some attachment with.  Why?  Simply because God does not "fit" man's limited (finite) image!  He is all things to all people, all knowing, all places at all times, unlimited in power, and totally holy.  Try "fitting" these characteristics into some "image" and you will find yourself frustrated by the limitations of your own mind to actually accomplish it!

In a deeper sense, God really does not want us to "limit" him by what we envision him to be like.  God's abilities are beyond our "reasoning" powers.  His love is beyond our ability comprehend the unfathomable depths of its grace.  His desires toward us are outside of our limited emotionally-based affections.  In other words, when we try to "understand" God by having him "fit" a particular image, we limit him in our lives.  God knows the dangers of limiting him - so he directs us to avoid the creation of an image which pigeon-holes him.  

In times past, pigeons were kept in these little cabinets, stored away until they would be served up as delicacies.  The purpose of keeping them in the "hole" was to fatten them up for the meal at hand.  As cabinet making became an art, pigeon-holes were built into cabinetry and furnishings in order to neatly store away items.  As we use the term today, we simply refer to the process of "putting away" something for a later use, or classifying it according to some function.

I think this is what God may have in mind when he asks us not to "pigeon-hole" him!  He is not some "delicacy" just to be fattened up and enjoyed only on certain occasions!  He is not stored away until there is some later need for him.  In fact, whenever we try to "classify" him in any particular manner, we are setting "boundaries" in our minds which only serve to create a limited perspective of his authority, power, and purpose in our lives.

Most of us understand "graven images" of God are not something which honor God.  Yet, I wonder if we really understand the "images" of God we have set up in our own minds?  I believe we may have more "limiting images" of God than we first imagine.  We might do very well to see just where we have been "pigeon-holing" God in our minds - limiting him in some way because we hold him up to the "candle" of some merely human characteristic or attribute.  God is not limited - we'd do well to let him live "unlimited" in our lives!