Summary: What gets in the way of our relationship with God?
“What is your Golden Calf?” Exodus 32:1-14
Several years ago, a friend who had worked his way through graduate school as a paramedic told me about one of his more grisly experiences on the job.
He received an anonymous call reporting a heroin addict who was on the verge of death in an abandoned apartment building.
When [my friend] got to the apartment, the man was huddled in a corner, shivering and unresponsive, surrounded by piles of rotten trash, used syringes, lighters, spoons—all the paraphernalia of heroin addiction.
When I asked what that was like, my friend told me that it was terrifying, but that he also thought it was probably the first time he fully understood what worship looks like.
If you’ve ever spoken, for any length of time, with a drug addict, you will understand what my friend was talking about.
In this case, the object of worship was heroine.
And like all idolatry—which is counterfeit worship—it doesn’t lead us to the promised land.
Humans are not created to be
If we don’t know the true God, we
will make our own deities.
It’s a sign of our finitude, and a
subconscious awareness that we need
direction, purpose, and relationship with something--someone bigger than ourselves.
A wise person once wrote: “the desire for God is the most fundamental appetite of all, and it is an appetite we can never eliminate.
We may seek to disown it, but it will not go away.
If we deny that it is there, we shall in fact only divert it to some other object or range of objects.
And that will mean that we invest some creature or creatures with the full burden of our need for God, a burden which no creature can carry.”
The story of the Bible is the story of God and humankind trying to rebuild our broken relationship.
We see this story played out from the Old Testament to the New Testament.
We see this story played out in all of
We see this story played out in our daily lives—on the playground at school, in offices and tall skyscrapers, and at home.
It’s the story of a lost people and a
It’s the story of a very weak people,
and a very strong God.
It’s the story of a God Who seeks us out…
…and a people who, often, don’t want to be found.
In our Story from Exodus, we see a people who had really been given a lot.
Never before had a people been so
privileged as Israel.
They had just been liberated, set free after 400 years of slavery.
Their nation was being born, the nation of Israel, and they were soon going to be given a homeland…
…and they had been chosen by God to
be God’s followers, the people of God.
They were to be God’s witnesses to the other nations of the earth, witnessing to the truth that there is only one true and living God.
Moses had gone up on Mount Sinai to receive the civil and religious
laws of God, the laws that were to form
them into a nation and govern them as a people.
But abruptly and sadly, a
catastrophic tragedy struck—all because they thought Moses had been on the mountain too long!
Instead of trusting God and waiting upon Him, the people chose to take things into their own hands, do their own thing, and go their own way.
And thus, we have the sad and terrible tragedy of the golden calf.
Does it sound familiar?
Can we relate to the people of Israel?
How often do we lose our faith and trust in the God Who has chosen and delivered us, and instead choose to take matters into our own hands, do our own thing, go our own way?
And what happens when we do this?
Not only do we miss out on the good
plans God has for our lives, we also fail to love God and our neighbor and experience the abundant life Jesus offers.
“When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the
mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, ‘Come, make us gods who will go before us.
As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t
know what has happened to him.’”
In other words, they were looking for a quick fix.
Something to fill that god-shaped void--anything would do.
So, Aaron makes a golden calf and proclaims it as their god or gods.
And we watch as they move back into the realm of darkness and confusion in no time flat.
It sure can happen fast, can it not?
One moment we are being rescued
from slavery to sin and death by
following the Risen Christ, the next we find ourselves, once again, in