Whether we put them on a pedestal or use them as a foot stool objectifying other people defines their worth by how they relate to us. An object’s purpose is to make us feel good, to serve us, to make us look good, to protect us, to care for us, or to meet our needs in some other way. Ultimately, objectifying another person is our attempt to make him or her responsible for us—for our thoughts, for our actions, for our grief, or for our euphoria. In my Disturbed post, found here, I concluded that when we objectify others we sin. I would like to expand that thought a little in this post by suggesting we not only objectify other people we tend to objectify God as well. And, when we do, we sin.
So, what does objectifying God look like? Is it different from objectifying people?
When someone becomes a something our relationship to the person changes. In truth something relationships rarely begin as someone relationships because relationships begun with mutual respect do not often shift away from that position. (Mostly because the people who forge relationships with others based on mutual respect tend to look at nearly all people with a mutual-respect-mindset).
I can already hear the questions. But what does that have to do with God? Is not our regard for God supposed to be greater than His for us? Are we not called to worship Him?
No, and yes. Without a doubt in my mind God is worthy of our respect, our loyalty, our allegiance, and our love. As our Creator, God enabled us to express those same feelings and display those same behaviors. If He had not we would not be able to do so. (Which, I might add, is different from saying He makes, AKA forces, us to feel or behave in a certain manner). Additionally, His response to us, to our existence, is to love us and to allow us to choose how we respond to Him. His response is the reason for my “No”. We may justifiably worship God (He is worthy.) but our regard for Him cannot possibly be greater than His for us.
The problem with trying to esteem God more than He esteems us is in order to do so we make ourselves greater than God (more capable of loving Him than He is of loving us). In order to justify what we are saying, we begin to attribute to God attitudes and behaviors which are not actually His, for example that He regards humanity as filthy rags and cannot be in the presence of our sin. If you think about it, this is the same as saying God’s love is conditional and He is not omnipresent, all-powerful, and omniscient after all.
Rather than a loving Father, we turn God into a jealous idol we have to somehow appease. And, we set out to do so by attending weekly services, having daily quiet times, and giving a regular tithe (among other things). We may not consciously be trying to manipulate and control God but eventually, everything in our lives becomes spiritualized. If Suzie fails to get the healing we prayed for then she needs more faith, or worse we predict there is hidden sin in her life. A new car, a raise–obviously God loves me after all I have favor. Yet, the message Joe who has been out of work for six months gets is not about a loving father. Instead he hears, God does not love you as much as He loves me because I have favor and you do not. We find a parking place close to the door in a busy lot and God by golly has seen and met our need because we were faithful to pray or said something nice to our spouse earlier in the day.
At this point one can see very little difference between the Christian God and a pagan god. Both are worshiped through the giving and receiving of gifts, offerings, praises, and sacrifices (which I might add, our god supposedly does not need but which some how put us in good standing). When we present this version of God to the world it is understandable that the world rejects Him as incomprehensible and unfeeling. As significant as the picture of God we paint for the rest of the world is however, using God to meet our needs and make us feel good makes God an idol. And, worshiping an idol is sin.