The Biblical God vs. The “Gods” Of Today

“Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” 1 Corinthians 8:6

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This is a powerful statement about the Oneness of God. There are two purposefully repeated phrases expressed in this verse to reveal the Oneness of God the Father and God the Son, they are: “from whom all things came,” and “for whom we live.” Their obvious implication is that the Father and Jesus are One. This is a stark contrast to the polytheism that was extant in Paul’s time, as it is to the world we live in today with its many “gods” of materialism, power, sex, and fame. With this verse we enter into the great mystery of the Trinity, which is the very core of our faith.

This verse follows remarks about the kind of “knowledge” that is involved in the worship of idols, as compared to the kind of knowledge that is found in “knowing” the One God. Paul writes, ‘This ‘knowledge’ (associated with idols) puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.” (verses 1-2)

Those who make gods out of finite, material things, or out of ideas rooted in human philosophies, put their faith in things that have no real, eternal existence. As Christians, we put our faith in the One God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We have come to know this God as love. We know his love for us and because of that love we are moved to love him and our neighbor in return. Love is the only “knowledge” that builds up. It is love that brings about forgiveness and reconciliation. Love of God alone is the force that brings life to our thoughts, words, and actions toward others. It is this love that brought all of creation into being, that suffered and died for us, and rose again. It is this love that sustains us, and all of creation, in every moment. It is this love that is the image and likeness we are made in. It is this One God for whom we live.

As Christians, we believe that we have seen the face of God in Jesus. Because we believe (know) that the Father and Jesus are One, we believe that we have encountered the depths and the saving power of God’s love personally in Jesus. It is through faith that we “know” this truth. It is in this knowledge, then, that Paul challenges us with a moral imperative. He uses the question about “eating the food offered to idols.” What are some of the “foods offered to idols” that we are asked to participate in today? Are we not often asked to “eat” the food of political correctness in our media, in the world of entertainment? Are we not asked to “eat” and to desire the lifestyles of the rich and the famous? Are we not asked to swallow the tenets of particular, humanly constructed political, social, and economic ideologies as if they are divine truths? If we, who know that Jesus, alone, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, are seen by the weak eating the “food” of these “idols,” might we not be guilty of destroying the weak person, “a brother for whom Christ died.” (verse 11) If so, we will have sinned against Christ. If false and ill conceived ideas (idols) are promoted by the world around us, we Christians must never appear in any way to be “going along to get along” with them. We are to be open and clear in all of our thought, words, and deeds, that we are living for God alone, unequivocally.

Lord, you are One. You are our source and our goal. Give us the grace of courage, so that we may recognize and then openly and lovingly refuse to eat the food of today’s idols. With knowledge of your love, help us to live in ways that lead the weak to you alone. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.