Summary: Examine man’s view of God vs. How God has revealed Himself in Scripture.
God, What’s He Really Like?
Psalm 145:8-9, 18-21
Theme: Examine man’s view of God vs. How God has revealed Himself in Scripture.
“How do you know there is a God?”
Because somebody told you there was one.
A young man was asked if he ever thought about dying and what he expected to be doing when the time came. This young man smiled confidently as he leaned back in his chair, folded his arms and said, "Just lying there like this with a smile on my face, thinking about God."
Holy men of the Bible have trembled at the thought of meeting God and this young man plans to barge right on into eternity without even thinking about what might be required of him after he is dead.
Survey after survey reveals the same paradox. Nearly everyone believes in God. Nearly everyone believes he is going to heaven. Yet three-fourths of them fail in their ethics. One study found that seventy percent of the people surveyed believed that it is "very important to do what God and the Scriptures say when choosing between right and wrong," yet two-thirds of this group rejected the idea of moral absolutes. Figure that out!
We have created a subjective God, who like the "scarecrow in the cucumber field" (Jeremiah 10:5), can be safely into certain areas of our lives and out of others. This God is the god of good feelings and high ideals. He is the politically correct. The new God loves the homosexual, but hates the moralist. He=ll tolerate abortion, but never child abuse. He is honored to have us take His Sacraments in the sanctuary, but hardly notices moments later when we take His name in vain in the parking lot.
Our own modern Deity is kinder, gentler, and more tolerant than the heavenly tyrant of the last century. He is the perfect country man. He espouses every view, all at once. He is all grace, so no grace is necessary. He is love without discrimination, mercy without law, power without intimidation, knowledge without conviction, truth without an attitude. He might even be a "she."
Like a mother whose children have outgrown her and moved away, He waits for us to call Him on Sundays and holidays and flatter Him with sermons and doxologies. He is proud of His children, but He no longer controls them. They are big now and have minds of their own. And as such, they are free to define Him in any way they please.
* three out of every ten adults, some whom identify themselves as "Christian," believe God is only "the realization of all human potential . . . a state of higher consciousness that a person can reach."
* "God is not perfect" say a growing number of Americans, according to George Barna. While most still believe Jesus was the son of God, forty-two percent of them say He committed sins while he was on earth.
* a gay rights conference in Washington gathered under a banner which read AIf Jesus were here, he’d march too!"
* a prominent leader of the men=s movement scolded the church for insisting that men follow a code of moral conduct, rather than "appropriating the love and forgiveness of the Father-God."
When did the "Holy One of Israel" become the jolly good fellow He is today?
The God of the Bible is very different. He is merciful and slow to anger. But He is holy and just. He is uncompromising. He is unapproachable light, exposing our sins and condemning whatever sin He does not cleanse. This makes us feel paranoid, like someone is watching us through the keyhole while we carry on with acts we think are done in private. It strikes fear and trembling, neither of which have much place in modern religion. Actually, a vision of God=s holiness has many effects, but it never allows me to sit there "with a smile on my face, thinking about God."
A clear vision of God has a profound effect on any culture, so a cloudy vision of God=s holiness has its implications as well.
One tragedy peculiar to our modern culture is that low views of God have slipped into the mainstream of Christian thought. Even among believers we references to "the man upstairs" or "Big Daddy" or, more commonly, "the good Lord" which is proverbial pat on the head.
We have come a long way from earlier days when people trembled and the earth shook at the mention of God=s name. Nobody I know shudders at the thought of mispronouncing Yahweh, and the fact that some from an earlier day did shudder seems like mere superstition to us who claim to be enlightened. The result has been a society in disarray, running here and there to cure the symptoms of a terminal disease we refuse to admit. But consider for a moment, some of the logical consequences of any culture that forfeits its doctrine of the holiness of God. It is a perfect description of our present condition which, at best, is critical.