Creating A God In Our Own Image

Creating A God In Our Own Image

Did you know that the Nazis created a non-Jewish, Aryan Jesus? As Susannah Heschel explained, Nazi theologians “redefined Christianity as a Germanic religion whose founder, Jesus, was no Jew but rather had fought valiantly to destroy Judaism, falling as victim to that struggle. Germans were now called upon to be the victors in Jesus’s own struggle against the Jews, who were said to be seeking Germany’s destruction.”

Talk about rewriting the Bible and creating a savior in our own image.

But that’s what many of us also do. We make a god who is like us — affirming, agreeing, confirming, empowering — rather than acknowledge the one true God, the God who transforms us, the God to whom we give account, the God who often makes us uncomfortable. We create a God who is here to serve us rather than us being here to serve Him.

Let me give you a few striking examples, some of which you’ve seen on TV.

A boxer lays prone on the ground in a corner of the ring, surrounded by concerned doctors and trainers. On the other side of the ring, his triumphant opponent says to the interviewer, “First, I want to give all the glory to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Without Him, I could not have done this.” 

In other words, without Jesus, I could not have landed such a vicious knockout punch, a punch that has endangered the health of my opponent. Is there something wrong with this picture?

I’m always glad to hear an athlete acknowledge the Lord. And it’s good to recognize that, without Him, we can do nothing (meaning, nothing truly good).

But thanking God for a violent victory? Really? Isn’t this another way that we create a god in our own image, a god who helps us win our every preference and desire, and defeat those whom we see as our enemies? God is always with the winner (that is, as long as we’re the ones winning).

I recently saw a boxer praying with his team before a fight. He was passionate, crying out like someone who truly knew the Lord. He sounded like the real deal.

Then he said, “And Lord, help me to show no mercy tonight.”

Seriously? He asked the God of mercy to help him show no mercy to his opponent in the boxing ring?

To paraphrase the prayer, “Merciful Savior, You who shower me with mercy every day, You who said, ‘Blessed are the merciful,’ help me to show no mercy in the ring. In Your name, amen!”

This same boxer is known for his free use of expletives during his interviews, adding another curious touch to his open and unashamed proclamation of Jesus as Lord. It looks like he has some growing to do.

I’ve seen this in other violent sports, too, where an injury leaves an opponent quivering on the mat, blood gushing from his head, while the victor points to the sky with gratitude, mouthing the words, “Thank You Jesus!” To paraphrase, “You were the one who put that special power in my kick. I could not be so violent on my own!”

Again, I’m all for athletes thanking God for His protection. Or saying that it’s only by His grace they made it to where they are. Or acknowledging His help in being a successful athlete.

And I recognize that there are many boxers and mixed martial artists who are known to have strong Christian testimonies, some of them sharing their stories about how their sport got them out of a life of crime. For them, while it is a tough sport, a combat sport, it is also a sport of honor, discipline, and hard work, and they wish no harm to their fellow combatants.

But does that mean that they should thank God for the skill to pulverize their opponents, leaving some of them brain damaged for life?

Yet this kind of thinking is all too common here in America, where the Lord exists to make us bigger and better, to empower us rather than change us.

This reminds me of an old friend of the family who used to give 10% of her gambling winnings to two of her favorite TV preachers. It was the Lord, she reasoned, who enabled her to beat the casinos, and so she owed him her tithe. 

I’ve heard of a “Christian” strip club owner who was a regular at his local gospel church, giving from his earnings to support the ministry. 

I’m familiar with a “Christian” abortion doctor in North Carolina who tithed out of her income to her local church. (In this case, the doctor actually believed she was doing God’s will. I’m not so sure even the strip club owner is quite that deceived.)

I saw another boxer give an interview after his victory, and he too was quick to glorify the Lord before he said anything else.

He then proceeded to rail on the other champions in his division, saying that he was the only self-made man among them. He alone was responsible for getting to the top, whereas these others had all kinds of help. And he too is known to let the profanity fly.

Is there nothing incongruous here? In one breath, you’re saying that you’re only here with the help of the Lord. In the next breath, you’re boasting about being a self-made man. Huh?

For some, God is the implicit, spiritual head of a political party. 

For others, He is the one who backs a particular denomination or Christian branch, also frowning on those other groups that are not as beloved (or faithful) as we are.

Some believe the Lord is the one who is obligated to get us out of trouble, no matter how we got into trouble. After all, isn’t that what the deity is supposed to do? Isn’t His primary function to answer our prayers and give us a get out of jail card?

This is what happens when we create a god in our own image, projecting on him our own proclivities and passions. It is easier to do than we realize.

We would be wise, then, to get on our knees, take out our Bibles, and pray, “Lord God who created the universe, show me who You really are. No other gods are worthy of worship. No other gods are really gods at all. Only You are God!”

May He give us eyes to see.

Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. He holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University and has served as a professor at a number of seminaries and is the author of 40 books. Connect with him on FacebookTwitter, or YouTube.

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire. 

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