The Lure of Small Gods

“When your god is small, you can still be the biggest thing in your world.”

I heard that on Sunday. It’s been in the back of my mind ever since. Small god. Small God. It’s a fascinating thought.

I can’t get it out of my head.

See, I know people who worship the small God, the God that is more concerned about rules and uniformity than about redemption and transformation. The small God doesn’t change you; he gives you rules and demands that you change. The small God doesn’t disciple you; he disciplines you for committing errors you didn’t know you’d committed. The small God doesn’t love you; he demands you love him.

The small God is not the true God.

Even now, there are people who are reading this and going ballistic. They hear words like love, redemption, transformation, rules, discipline, and they hear something very different from me. I am teetering on the edge of heresy by suggesting that God is not concerned primarily with rules and discipline and order and obedience. I’m leading people down a wrong path, a path of easy-believism.

The reality is the opposite. Easy-believism is when you tell people that if they’ll live their lives a certain way, according to to certain code, then God will make everything work out, and if it doesn’t, then it’s their fault for not living right. Easy-believism says that everyone else is wrong and you’re right, so there’s no need to have a conversation. Easy-believism says that only people who live by certain rules truly get God.

True belief is hard. It’s challenging. There are black and white areas to be sure, but there’s also a lot of gray. And it’s in that gray that a person is forced to lean into God, to dig into the word, to search Him out for answers. It’s in that gray that a person finds themselves being transformed. It’s in that gray that a person discovers that the small God is pathetic and mean and not to much different than a petty human being; that if God exists, He must by definition be something more than we can create on our own.

And that’s why the quote above resonated with me so much: people who worship the small God want to be bigger themselves. They want to be able to say that they are special, they are unique, they are gifted or holy or any other adjective that places emphasis on them and their ability to be blessed by the small God.

Maybe that’s the tell: if your God exalts you for following him, you’re worshiping the small God.

Because the big God, the real God, the God revealed in the Bible and in the person of Jesus Christ, isn’t concerned about you being exalted through Him. He wants to be exalted through you. And He does that not by piling the rules on you to the point of suffocation, but by freeing you up to be who He created you to be. He is exalted most when you live a life fully free in Him.

I get scared writing stuff like this. I get scared pushing against the small Gods out there, the gods of abusers and bullies who use religion as a weapon to secure their own power. I get scared because I know those types of people don’t like being called out, don’t abide people who stand up to their scare tactics. I get scared because I know people who live that way, and I don’t wish them any harm or want to hurt them. I get scared because I don’t want to become like that myself.

More and more, though, I find that this is something I want to write. That I feel driven to write on. More and more I feel like I need to say something that presses back against the small Gods so the people who wonder if there’s something more can know the truth: there is.

And He’s so much more than you’ve been lead to believe. Or dared to dream.

Don’t settle for a small God. Don’t settle for a world where, by simply following rules you become the biggest thing. Don’t settle for anything other than the one true God.

4 thoughts on “The Lure of Small Gods

  1. Hi, I am reading your blogs for the first time and those are thought provoking words, in a good way. Okay, my origins come from India – a land known for a particular religious sect. In our books, there are certain rules by which man is supposed to live and apparently things become easier. And then again many of us have often confused those rules for “Okay God, so here’s the deal. If I do X work to please you, you will get my Y work done for me.”

    This is somehow instilled into us as kids but its only when we grow up do we realize that only our actions lead to results. This would be mean – If I want to be a blogger, i join the right blog website. If I want to be successful, I get inspiration from the right people and dedicate my life towards it. In the end, you would thank God alright but at the same, you can take a step back and learn to appreciate yourself for the all the hard work you’ve put in.


  2. I really liked how you expressed this. You are correct, in my opinion, God is so much more than some would imagine. And placing idolatry for small gods is not what is preached in the Bible. In fact, those who do are like the moneychangers, they are going to get thrown out or face some consequences. Hopefully, they will repent and change their ways! My Dad was a scientist who also was a strong Christian, he always said, “How BIG is your GOD?” He would have loved this!


  3. Powerful thought to be sure…if God is just a glorified human being, one that exemplifies the best of all mankind, it’s still just as filthy rags. He is perfection and holiness and amazing! He created the universe and formed the hearts of man, only He is to be praised. It’s time for America to stand up and believe in the One true Big God, the God of the Bible! Thanks for sharing!


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