I was catching up on the Story and was reading through the chapter that included the story of the Golden Calf. I think I’ve heard and read the story a hundred times and seen it portrayed year after year in the Ten Commandments movie, but this time through I was particularly struck by on verse. “He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’”
These are your gods, who brought you up out of Egypt. Here they are at the base of the mountain where God is talking to Moses not too long after God brought them up out of Egypt and they are proclaiming that this calf among other gods brought them out of Egypt. They saw with their own eyes what God did for them. They walked through the Red Sea on dry ground. They could see and were afraid of what was happening up on the mountain. In spite of all this, they chose to make their own gods.
When we read this, we often wonder, “How could they!?” We have the same reaction when seeing what the disciples did after Jesus died. They hid and we wonder why since they were able to see in person what Jesus was able to do. Didn’t they know!?
We wonder, but I realized that we are all guilty of the same thing. Instead of seeking God, we come up with our own savior, our own version of god, and say, “This is the god that saved me from my sins,” or “This is the god that tells me how to live my life.” We proclaim faith in Jesus, but replace him with government, money, family, entertainment, jobs, and everything else. We scrounge up what we have and proclaim that to be Jesus for us. We make Jesus is whatever image we want and think that we don’t have an idol because we still worship Jesus.
After reading Carl Medearis’ book Speaking of Jesus, I was challenged to spend more time with Jesus and learning. I think this chapter of the story solidified that challenge in my heart. I don’t want to be guilty of misrepresenting Jesus by proclaiming something else to be him.
I hope that you will accept this challenge as well. Even if you’ve known Jesus for decades, take some time a read through the gospels and maybe even a book about Jesus, and ask yourself this question: Does the Jesus I see in the gospels line up with the Jesus that I claim to follow?