Thursday, April 21, 2016

Day 51: Matthew 22:33-46 & Psalm 52 - Why Are We Always Trying to Shrink God?

Today's Reading: Matthew 22:33-46 & Psalm 52

Why Are We Always Trying to Shrink God?

"But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God." - Matthew 22:29, ESV

We human beings are always trying to bring God down to our level, to make Him more manageable. Man-made pagan religions create gods that look and act very much like very powerful and somewhat spoiled humans. Voltaire said, "If God has made us in his image, we have returned him the favor."

In this passage, we see the Sadducees and the Pharisees both trying to shrink God down to their level. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection and denied many of the supernatural aspects of God's rule over creation, including angels.  So Jesus told them that they were ignorant of the Scriptures and the power of God and then told them that believers in the resurrection will be like the angels, thus confronting both of their God-shrinking errors at once.

The Pharisees tried to shrink God by making God's Law a matter of a list of rules, hundreds of regulations to keep daily. But God's Law is both simpler and so much larger than the Pharisees list of regulations. By pointing to the heart of the Law - loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself - Jesus clarified God's righteous standard and showed how small and petty the Pharisees' attempts at obedience were. 

Then, after Jesus corrected both the Sadducees and Pharisees, He then challenged their shrunken view of the Messiah. The Messiah was not merely the son of David, as they thought, but was actually David's Lord. 

We need to examine the ways in which we are tempted to reduce God, to bring Him down to a manageable size. Do we deny His absolute sovereignty over everything, including salvation? Do we deny His absolute holiness? Do we deny the eternal nature of His justice? Do we deny His rule over every detail of our lives? Do we fail to give Him the thanks He is due? 

In whatever ways we're tempted to shrink God, we need to repent and allow Scripture to correct and inform our view of Him. The Gospels and the Psalms are great places to get a truer picture of our Great God! 

Prayer Based on Psalm 52:

Heavenly Father, why do men boast of evil, denying Your righteous and sovereign rule?
    Your steadfast love endures all the day.
The tongues of the wicked plots destruction,
    like a sharp razor, these workers of deceit,
love evil more than good,
    and lying more than speaking what is right because they are deceived by the father of lies.
They love all words that devour,
    and my deceitful tongue often leads me to want to join them in lies.
Forgive me, O my Father!

Mighty God, You will break all lies forever with Your truth;
    You will snatch and tear the wicked from their security;
    You will uproot Your enemies from the land of the living.
The righteous shall see and fear,
    and shall laugh at them, saying,
“See the people who would not make
    God their refuge,
but trusted in the abundance of their riches
    and sought refuge in the lies and sins that led to their own destruction!”

Father, as I meditate on this Psalm, my heart breaks for my country, our culture and the rising generation. Have mercy while there is still time! 

But I am like a green olive tree
    in Your house, O God.
I trust in Your steadfast love
   forever and ever.
I will thank You forever,
    because You have done it.
I will wait for Your name, for it is good,
    in the presence of the godly.

Hear me and strengthen my trust in You, Father, in Jesus' name, Amen! 

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