Can mortals make for themselves gods? Such are no gods! Jeremiah 16:20
We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. I John 5:20.
We mortals certainly don’t think we can actually make gods, or do we? In our modern day and age, we don’t make idols and worship them, but If we think about some of the things we seem to “worship” maybe we do. We have plenty of examples – just think of athletes, actors, and entertainers – that we are often said to idolize. In a course in mythology at St Olaf we learned about lots of gods that different cultures had. These gods had different qualities and were basically to be feared. Not too many that were benevolent. It must have been confusing especially if you moved from one area to another which had a whole different set of gods. The idea of one God was not the commonest belief system. Even among the Israelites there was temptation to ignore their Lord God and worship the gods they saw others worshipping.
Now Jeremiah is warning against this. The gods he refers to may have been those of surrounding cultures, or those idols made by the people that should have known there was just one God. One Creator, one All-Powerful. Jeremiah is very clear on the concept – although we may try to make our own gods, there are no such gods. Making them out of precious metals, does not make them gods. Yet, how can we be sure that we are worshipping the “right” God?
John writes about knowing who truly is God. We have the advantage of having heard the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who came to help us understand so we can know the true God. Those who he is addressing are confused on some points – they wonder if Jesus really is God, did He appear to be a person, or is He truly God? There are several viewpoints as some claim one thing and some claim another. John, like Jeremiah, is very clear – there is one true Son of God who came to live among people and give them understanding of the one true God. Over the years others repeated this simple, true message and we learn from them. There is only one God and Lord to follow. One who loves us, sent a Savior for us, and the Holy Spirit as our advocate and counselor.
Gracious God thank you for sending Jesus, your truth, who comes to us in forgiving love. You created us to live in communion with you, to live in harmony with creation, and to love one another. But we are assailed by competing claims and assertions of truth that leave us distressed and confused. Help us listen to you. May your spirit ever renew in us the awareness that only you are perfect, true, and eternal. May we find courage and confidence to live by your will and in your truth. Amen.