Vile idols are not the ones to worry about (everyone, except for those of the most infantile character, knows what a vile idol is). It’s the idols that are good and right—the idols we our intellectual and enlightened selves call good and right—that are cause to worry. Because they are not good and right. They are idols. Made by man. Hence, they will fail. And even though we know this, we follow these man-made things anyway, claiming we are “following God.” The great lie: We are pretending priests, joyously singing to our beautiful god who sprang up in the garden this morning, even though we put him there last night.
But God doesn't spring up in the garden. Man does.
God can not be created by man. Man is created by God.
Only God is good and right.
Only God never fails.
Sacrificial systems stabilize society. Anywhere there have ever been humans this has been true.
But almost as soon as they do, they destabilize, because the system and all within it fall under the spell of a simple but powerful illusion:
Sacrifice must have a reason.
To sacrifice, to give, to do anything, to release energy in any form must have a reason. And the reason is so reasonable. The reason is getting. Not only that, the reason is in itself a getting. Therefore the motive force in the universe for giving energy away is getting. The math is: "If I give, do, say, release x...I'll get y." And the corollary: "I will sacrifice a today"...why? for what reason?..." for the promise of b tomorrow."
In the beginning, this divinely straightforward equation, as clear and simple as the bite of an apple, sits comfortably in the pit of our cosmos propelling existence into the future. But before long, a sacrificial/societal system emerges which exists for one thing: itself, as it consists entirely of individuals who also exist for one thing: themselves. By flawless arithmetic the soul is hollowed in exchange for oneself, and a waste of technological gadgetry is ejected all around. And yet we know as we stumble over enlarging piles of science and circuitry that some vital miscalculation has occurred. Some essential variable has been left out of our chronic transactional machine. And everyone, captivated by the math, yet unaware of its entropic effect, drifts like sediment towards zero.
Inevitably the stable society which, by definition, promises a benevolent future to its inhabitants, grows into a transactional god ninety cubits high. A thing of solid gold demanding each bow down to the sound of its drums and sacrifice if he is to receive its gifts.
But what about the God of reality? The Jesus of “you will always have later, but you will never have right now again.” What about the God whose pleasure descends as light and fire today upon a living alter bloody with faith--which is sacrifice beyond reason? What about the God of spontaneous, simultaneous, and coexistent sufficiency? When the proper sacrifice is made to the God of reality: which is to give pointlessly, give unreasonably, give only for giving itself, give all, and give best, expecting nothing in return—then stability does not abound...love does. And then not merely a stable society manifests, but rather a Promised Land gushing with milk and honey.