There was a song that came out in the early 90’s called “What if God was One of Us?” by Joan Osborne. IN the song, Joan poses this question again and again yet never lands on answer. She sings:
What if God was one of us,
Just a slob like one of us,
Just a stranger on a bus
Trying to make His way home?
The fact that she never answers this question makes the song more tolerable. She leaves things open for her hearers to think hard about what the world would actually be like if God were a guy like us who just happened to create and sustain everything in the universe. But if you think about it for more than 2 seconds, the answer is scary.
What if God was one of us? What if He was selfish or lazy or stubborn? What if He struggled with pornography or needed our help? Things would be absolute chaos. The universe would play out like the movie Thor, with “gods” battling one another to the death in a fight for their own domination, and no one wins that fight.
No, We should not desire a God who is like us. The human heart is full of evil and not one of us is any where near good (Psalm 53:3), and we need a good who is perfectly good. We should be eternally grateful that God is not like one of us, and we should be eternally grateful to God for Psalm 50, where we read these words from the mouth of the Lord Himself:
19 “You give your mouth free rein for evil,
mand your tongue frames deceit.
20 You sit and speak against your brother;
you slander your own mother’s son.
21 These things you have done, and I have been silent;
you thought that I was one like yourself.
But now I rebuke you and play the charge before you.”
The people of Israel had begun to do more than just ask the question “What if God was one of us?”, they had begun to believe that He WAS one of them. They thought that he liked being patronized. They thought he approved of sacrifices done out of appeasement and compulsion. They thought that if they just appeared holy, He would be pleased. But He was not pleased with them, and He is not pleased when we do the same.
God’s desire is that we come before Him with thankfulness, humility, and joy. He says in the next two verses:
22 “Mark this, then, you who forget God,
lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!
23 The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
to one who orders his way rightly
I will show the salvation of God!”
God is serious about the way that we come before Him (I feel like this comes up a lot in Scripture). He has sent us His Son to make all of our sacrifices pleasing to Him, and we need do nothing more than rest in Him for our salvation. This produces the sacrifices of thanksgiving and the rightly ordered life that verse 23 describes. God does not need our service or our praise, He wants our hearts turned toward Him in humility and contrition (brokenness). Let us lean on the strength of the Lord Jesus to work these things in us, and let us remember that God is altogether unlike us.
And that this is a good thing.