As bible study goes, it was crowded last night in the basement of St. Mark's Coffee House, and the verses for the week were an interesting lot.
Some overarching big themes like Elijah ascending in a whirlwind into heaven (2 Kings 2:11)and then appearing at the transfiguration of Jesus (Mark 9:4). I did find the reference to bleaching ("...such as no one on earth could bleach them") in the transfiguration just a little bit odd. Curious. Humorous. A Clorox moment. That was the big stuff.
But it was a small thing that got my attention - the lower case god of 2 Corinthians 4:4 (my emphasis):
"In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."
The god of this world. That's not God. That there's a small "g" lower case god. Who is that? And this small god has "blinded the minds of unbelievers." How is does that work? What can keep people from seeing the "light of the gospel"? That's amazingly powerful for a lower case dude, isn't it?
I'm not sure what exactly was going on in Paul's world in terms of diversions, amusements and follies, but these are endless in our world. The lower case gods of our world are everywhere. The toughest meanest lower case god is the "god of not good enough" who offers all sorts of blandishments and nostrums to assist you in becoming "good enough" through his disciples: Success! Fame! Popularity! McMansions! This year's model! Thin! Beauty! And of course Addiction! Alienation! Cynicism! Fear of failure! And, last but not least, Greed.
The god of not good enough always needs one more tithe. One more drink. One more new car. One more bulimic episode. He seems to have a pulpit on every corner, magazine cover, and TV show. Maybe your mother or father was a follower, a priest even, and laid the gospel of "not enough" at your bedside every single day.
It is very hard to see the light of the Gospel when following the god of not good enough. I lost a lot of years to the lower case god. So many. Because if you are blind to your own worth and value, you cannot understand how God could love you. His high priests tell you that you are worthless but that there is a new drug/iPod/Mac/car/job/liquor that will help you to finally be good enough, smart enough, lovable. But of course it doesn't, it won't and it can't. There is always one more thing you have to do to earn your worth in the Church of Not Enough.
If you have been raised in the Church of Not Enough, it is hard to believe the Gospel. You don't understand that you are fine and that you can come to the Gospel just as you are. You don't have to do anything at all to earn this amazing love. In fact, you can't earn it at all.
It just is.