How to Respond When the World Tells Us We Can "Build Our Own Deity"

The necessity of revelation and of knowing God on his terms is not accepted in our culture today. A story can help illustrate this tension.

In our society, for decades bumper stickers have been used as a means of self-declaration. Beyond the popular Christian “fish” bumper sticker, and the reactionary Darwin one, we find all kinds of political, social, and religious statements on the bumpers of people’s cars. They were our original social media “walls” before the internet existed, and even today they can incite as much of a response as a comment on Twitter.

With that in mind, I recently saw a bumper sticker that asserted: “You can’t keep God in your box.” As a Catholic Christian who acknowledges God’s true presence in the Eucharist, which is reserved in the tabernacle (a type of box) in every Catholic Church, I found the sticker comical at first. Of course, protecting and reserving God in his tabernacle is not the point of the statement. If only we were in a culture where the Lord’s presence in the Eucharist were a topic of popular discussion and debate!

No, the bumper sticker was one more version of the popular “co-exist” sticker. The statement is a reaction against organized religion and creedal belief in God. In our context, it was a response against God’s revelation, especially when accepted and asserted as the true and only means to know God.

The full cultural argument goes something like this: religion isn’t necessary. God is whatever you want him to be. You can believe whatever you want. Your religion is for you. No one has any higher claim on a knowledge of God. Don’t be a jerk and tell me what to believe. Co-exist and be happy. Live and let live (unless you’re an unborn child).

In essence, our fallen world tells us we can “build our own deity.” Such a false freedom also declares that none of this is real. God is not real. It’s all about us and what we want. It’s about our emotional fulfillment.

In response to such intoxicating views, we speak wisdom, and so we offer these thoughts:

  • First, God is real. He is infinitely perfect and blessed in himself. This is a statement of reality, not my own personal preference.
  • Second, it is true: no one can keep God in his own box.
  • Third, God—in an act of sheer goodness—has placed himself within God’s own “box”—namely, his own revelation. He has spoken to us about himself and has shared his own knowledge of himself with the human family.
  • Fourth, we are called to share this amazing act of love with all men and women that they might know God, living and true, and come to accept his love and mercy.
  • Fifth, we speak this truth in love. We recognize and will defend a person’s freedom from coercion into the Faith, even when he declines or mocks our efforts to share God’s revelation.

God has revealed himself to us. By acknowledging this revelation, we are not placing God in a box. Rather, we are accepting his invitation to meet him in his own box, which is infinite, far beyond the depths of the oceans and far above the heights of the skies. We meet the true God on his terms and come to know him by his own self-disclosure.

God is perfect, blessed, and a divine family. He is not a psychological consolation, a lucky charm, or a cherished family heirloom. He is living and true. And he calls us to know him, love him, and worship him.

Do we accept God’s revelation in our own lives?

Do we accept him on his own terms and seek to faithfully follow and worship him?

Did you enjoy this excerpt from Fr. Jeff Kirby's Real Religion, How to Avoid False Faith and Worship God in Spirit and Truth? Pick up your copy today!

Jun 22nd 2024 Fr. Jeff Kirby

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