In the first part of this article, Isaiah 46:1-2 recounted how both the people who worshiped false gods, and the idols of those “gods” themselves, were taken to captivity. (In the latter case, the idols were literally carted off). For all the work that the people had done to build the idols, give them offerings, and worship them, the facts showed that these false gods didn’t have the power to save anyone.
The true God (here, I’m referring to Jehovah: God the Father, God the Son [Jesus Christ], and the God the Holy Spirit) doesn’t need our protection. We can stand up with Him against evil, and we can speak the truth about Him, but we never need to violate His principles to make His nature somehow more appealing. Yes, we are called to live according to His superior standards (which are better for us, anyway), so there is a right way and a wrong way for His followers to act, but we don’t have to compromise the truth just to make Him “look good”.
How might we bend the rules to try and influence God’s “image”? If you are a follower of God, consider how we may be tempted to compromise the character of God to make Him look better to the world:
Trying to “fit in”, even if it requires compromise. In an effort to reach the world for Jesus (or, less nobly, just to keep ourselves from receiving persecution like He experienced), we may desire to just cut a few corners from Jesus’ instructions. Jesus seems to have been liked by many in His day, and there’s no reason that His followers can’t be popular, too. When we compromise His teachings to do so, though, we aren’t honoring Him.
Pointing out how much we’re “allowed” to do. Jesus offers us an abundant life, which is much better than the path our sinful nature would take us on. When challenged by those who are still letting themselves be guided only by their sinful nature and evil forces, we don’t have to point out how much we can “get away with” in our walk with Him. We should be able to simply live in freedom according to His guidance (and the Holy Spirit’s direction), and demonstrate to others the joys and blessings of living with the purpose for which we were created.
Making church more entertaining at the expense of doctrine. To be clear, I don’t know any reason that worshiping God can’t be exciting, respectful, Biblically sound, and even fun, all at the same time. People celebrating God in the Bible played a lot of musical instruments and seemed to have a good time doing so, especially as they were overwhelmed with God’s good nature and wanted to praise Him with their whole being. I have personally attended multiple churches where the truth of God’s word is taught in its entirety1 and without compromise, where worship was an exciting event, and where people – including myself – wanted to come back week after week. When truth is compromised, though, in the belief that people aren’t going to be attracted to the person and teachings of Jesus Christ (despite the fact that they were – and continue to be – drawn to Him in droves), then the resulting false teaching is no longer drawing people to the complete picture of Jesus. Instead, by definition, this tainted teaching turns people to some other, invalid faith.
Since God is God, He can take care of Himself. We serve Him, and bring glory to Him, but not by artificially painting an incorrect picture. He shows His nature to the world through many sources, and we’re just part of His plan. We may glorify Him, but we don’t need to break His commandments to “boost his image”. And, in the end, unlike the idols that were carted away to captivity along with their worshipers, He will save us when we trust in and follow Him.
Sing a new song to the LORD!
Let the whole earth sing to the LORD!
Sing to the LORD; praise his name.
Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.
Publish his glorious deeds among the nations.
Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.
Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise!
He is to be feared above all gods.
The gods of other nations are mere idols,
but the LORD made the heavens!
Honor and majesty surround him;
strength and beauty fill his sanctuary.
Psalms 96:1-6 NLT
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
- Practically, exposition in a church setting can only cover a certain amount of the Bible’s teaching in the available time, so to say that a given church covered all of the Bible during formal services might be over-stating things. However, when no part of the Bible is off the table for instruction, and when listeners are taught to read and study the Bible on their own, then the combination of those two things can easily cover the entirety of the Scriptures. ↩