There are both joys and dangers that flow out of living in the freest country the world has ever known. We tend to delight in the choices we are free to make. As I write, I get to listen to Johnny Cash’s latest, and perhaps last, recording. You, on the other hand, may, as you read, listen to Kathleen Battle singing Bach. We’re both grateful that we can choose.
The danger is simply this—we can get used to it. When we choose, and choose and choose, we find it easy to believe that we ought to be able to choose whatever we want. If we can choose among a shelf full of deodorants, can’t we choose our own god?
As is so often the case, however, this cultural assumption lies hidden and unexamined. No one actually says out loud, “I demand the right to choose my own god.” It comes naturally to us. What we hear instead is this, “I could never worship a god who did X.” Such a thought betrays the consumerist mentality that lies beneath it. It doesn’t matter what we fill in for the X. If you object to a god who ordained September 11, you are no better oft than if yon object to a god who condemns sodomy as a perversion. It’s still you doing the choosing. Your god is still a creation, a commodity, or even a suitor among an array of suitors. While the Constitution may affirm a divinely granted right to freedom of religion, God Himself makes no such claim. The Lord our God is a jealous God.
And God’s jealousy bears real fruit, judgment upon the children to the third and fourth generation. God’s judgment shows up in the strangest places. The God who is not only condemns sodomy as a perversion, but ordains it as a judgment. God gives them over to vile passions. In short, when we demand to choose, we in turn become slaves of our passions.
But God has made us citizens not of the “freest” nation the world has ever known, but of the only holy nation the world has ever known. He has made of us not consumers, but a royal priesthood, His own special people. He has promised to bless to a thousand generations those who love Him, even though we only love Him because He first loved us. Before the face of God, coram Deo, we find not a deaf, dumb and blind God. We do not spin our wheels, or ride the merry-go-round of choice, but we worship the true and living God.