Earlier I wrote a post about our potentially playing with religion. And I’ve been wrestling with my view of God and if it’s correct. Do I really view God right?
Do I ever entertain thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him? Probably.
I serve a God that is infinite, eternal and almighty, but do I really regard Him as such? I do think so. But, daily do I act as though that’s true for me?
I think we often times don’t act as though it is true, and I would argue that’s because we’re self-consumed, narcissistic, stubborn, and all-around imperfect. And fair enough, but how do we get past that?
I said in the other post, it’s easy to see that some of our culture and worldview has crept in, and possibly muddled our view of God. For those who might not know what I mean by “worldview”, our worldview informs our personal, social, and political lives. It influences how we perceive ourselves, how we relate to others, how we adjust to adversity, and what we understand to be our purpose. Our worldview helps determine our values, our ethics, and our capacity for happiness. It helps us understand where we come from, our heritage; who we are, our identity; why we exist on this planet, our purpose; what drives us, our motivation; and where we are going, our destiny. And so, a worldview is not a bad thing. But if our worldview gives a poor and inaccurate picture of God and faith, then something needs to be done.
Too often, it is easy for us to view God through the same lens we view people or through the lens that we experience the world. Too many people have painful experiences in this world, and too many people make statements like, “If God is good, then why is there so much suffering and evil?” Or, “Where was God when _____ happened?”
Or, someone may even acknowledge God’s existence, but make a statement like “I cannot believe that, if there is a God, he be interested in us, an insignificant speck in the massive universe.”
They’re all missing the point, I think. But, I don’t want to get into this argument. It would take too long.
I want to address Christians and their view of God. I want to consider my view of God, and begin to get it right.
Now, I don’t get it right. I’ll be the first to admit it, and many of you are probably thinking “well duh, Luke, you clearly don’t. We know you.”
A.W. Tozer said that what comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him.
“Amongst the sins to which the human heart is prone, hardly any other is more hateful to God than idolatry, for idolatry is at bottom a libel on His character. The idolatrous heart assumes that God is other than He is – in itself a monstrous sin – and substitutes for the true God one made after its own likeness. Always this God will conform to the image of the one who created it and will be base or pure, cruel or kind, according the moral state of the mind from which it emerges.
A god begotten in the shadows of a fallen heart will quite naturally be no true likeness of the true God…
…Let us beware lest we in our pride accept the erroneous notion that idolatry consists only in kneeling before visible objects of adoration, and that civilized peoples are therefore free from it. The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him. It beings in the mind and may be present where no overt act of worship has taken place. “When they knew God,” wrote Paul, “they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”
Then followed the worship of idols fashioned after the likeness of men and birds and beasts and creeping things. But this series of degrading acts began in the mind. Wrong ideas about God are not only the fountain from which the polluted waters of idolatry flow; they are themselves idolatrous. The idolater simply imagines things about God and acts as if they were true.” -AW Tozer
I’m inclined to believe that the most important thoughts people can entertain are the ones about God. Even if they are bad, or incomplete, or just completely wrong, I do believe they are the most important thoughts that the person can have and should be reflecting on. All the problems that we could face in the world, the most important thing that we should wrestle with is, who is God, what is He like.
Because this question is of most importance, a right view of God should inform everything else that we do. Prayer, worship, service, love, sacrifice, even the menial aspects of life: they all must stem from our view of God, practical Christian living is at stake as well as our theological understanding. If our foundation is not solid, then sooner or later is will all collapse. Where we see Christian leaders fall, our Churches fail to act Christ-like, or even our own sin, it can likely be traced to a imperfect view of God.
I’m not there yet. And I’m not sure I’ll get there on this side of eternity, but I know that by God’s grace that I have been saved. Whew! But how do I view God right and in a way that is worthy of Him? How do I practically (in this life) get to that point, and give him the adoration that is His due?
Interestingly enough, even though we do not understand how magnificent and glorious God is, we still must try. Even though we praise and worship God incompletely, we’re still compelled to, because of his love and grace we should be driven to our knees in worship. And while we do not understand the holiness of God in its entirety, we are imparted with a knowledge of the holy through the Spirit and by His grace.
Lately, I have been reading from 1 Peter, and in it we are called to “be holy, for I am holy”. I’ve realized that this call needs to strike me the way that Isaiah was struck. I need to have a pain-filled cry, of absolute trembling, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5). We need to be disturbed by this call towards holiness, because we cannot grasp the true meaning of divine holiness.
I don’t think it can come from studying or gaining more knowledge. We know that faith is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8), and this knowledge of God and His perfection can only come from the Holy Spirit illuminating our hearts.
I just want to be cautious, because my tendency is to place other things before God and I have been wrestling with the fact that I do not view God right. Here is where I have landed so far:
1. First and foremost, I need to recognize my sin and repent. It is difficult (understatement) to draw near to God with sin. Until we can see ourselves like God sees us, we are not likely to be bothered by our sin. But once we realize our depravity, God goes about sanctifying us.
2. We need to have an outright committal to follow Christ completely. A whole life dedicated to Christ in faith.
3. We need to walk in the Spirit, and having died to sin we are now alive in Christ. We need to throw off the desires of this world and chase after those things which allow us to pursue righteousness. For me that means community and being vulnerable.
4. We need to practice thinking about God. It may sound funny, but we are so self consumed that I don’t believe we really consider the majesty and glory of God enough. At least I don’t. We need to form habits that allow us to meditate on Him and His word.
5. Finally, (like #4) we need to worship. Because It Is Finished. God the Holy One, has sent his Son, who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
And so when met with the reality of a holy God, and the fact that there are created beings which “day and night they never stop saying: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come”, I want to begin to view God rightly. By faith and obedience, by prayer and meditation, by hating sin and chasing righteousness. Like Moses (in Exodus 33), I know that no man can see God and live, SO I cling even more desperately to Christ, whose sacrifice has given me life, and by whom I am counted righteous.
“The instrument through which you see God is your whole self. And if a man’s self is not kept clean and bright, his glimpse of God will be blurred”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity