God is not who you and I think He is. He is who He says He is. What we think is inconsequential. We do not define Him, He defines Himself for us.
“Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God and there is none like me…I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it” (Isa. 46:8-9, 11b).
Perhaps one of the biggest distortions in our view of God flows from our escalated view of humanity. We have such a high view of our ability to reason that we end up subjecting Him to our sensibilities instead of letting our sensibilities be shaped by His self-revelation. Have you ever said or heard somebody else say “I couldn’t believe in a God who ________.” This disease of the Western mind is one huge barrier to a real and impactful relationship with God. As long as we confine Him to our limited scope of understanding, we forego the transformative power which comes from knowing the Living God through Jesus Christ (cf. Isa. 6, 1 Cor. 1:18-25).
There are basically two ways that we redefine God according to our sensibilities. The first is by willful ignorance. The second is by over-dependance on subjective provision. Let me explore each since I am confident that all of us make these mistakes and need to be lovingly redirected.
1. Ignoring God’s Revealed Character Willfully
God has disclosed Himself supremely through His Son, Jesus Christ, who is one with Him and who was sent by Him (Jn. 10:30, Jn. 5:23, 36, 37). Jesus lived a sinless life (Heb. 4:15), died a sinner’s death (2 Cor. 5:21), and rose again conquering death and the grave (Hos. 13:14, Acts 2:31). He embodies God’s love, mercy, grace, justice, patience, might, and wisdom. We know Jesus through the work of God’s Spirit (1 Jn. 5:6) and through the Scriptures (Lk. 24:27) both working in conjunction. If we ignore Jesus Christ and the truths He taught, we willfully ignore God. If we embrace the Messiah, we enjoy forgiveness of our sins and joyful acceptance by God.
Those who do not accept these truths about Christ are certainly ignoring God. But how can those of us who are Christians willfully ignore Jesus? A few ways would be through 1) neglecting to spend time seeking Him through prayer and Bible study, 2) failing to fellowship with other believers, and 3) forgetting the gospel which reminds us of His great love. All of us must be cautious not to fall into these traps and instead we should continually be “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…” (Heb. 12:2). The positive sides of the three failures I listed above all serve us in “looking to Jesus.” We don’t merely participate in personal devotion, church life, and preaching the gospel to ourselves as some religious exercises, but instead as the means God has given us to know our Savior more deeply and truly.
2. Putting Too Much Stock in Subjective Provision
It is all too easy to want God to do something for us now instead of being satisfied with all that He’s already done. Many of us are discontent because God isn’t coming through in some present circumstance in the manner which we expect. Maybe you’ve been frustrated because He isn’t letting you into the college you want to go to, you’re still single but want to be married, or you have been hunting for a job but still find yourself unemployed. Why is God holding out on you? If that’s the line of thinking you’ve slipped into, beware of idolatry. You don’t really want God, you just want His blessings. And yet, at great personal cost, He has ransomed you from death and granted eternal life. The objective provision that you need has already been freely given to you! What more could you ask for? There is enough joy and satisfaction in knowing the gospel of His grace. Even if He takes all of your relationships and possessions away, you still have Him forever and He is enough.
Forgive me if my tone has come across as harsh. This has been a bit confrontational but that is not always bad. Sometimes we need a wake-up call though it may be unpleasant. Please know that I’m just as convicted by these things as you are. My prayer is that we would all ditch our sensibilities and look to Jesus to find out who God really is. Rely no more on your own capabilities to know God but instead trust in His revelation through Jesus Christ. May you find rich, gospel blessings as you do.
For His glory and fame,