Those who worship the God of the Bible in spirit and in truth need to be careful not to reduce the Most High to nature, being, evolution, process, humanity, or even religious experiences…No church can long serve the God of truth with an untrue and diminished view of who He is.”
– Gordon R. Lewis & Bruce A. Demarest, “Integrative Theology”
If you conducted an on-the-street survey with the question “Who is God?” how many different answers do you think you would receive? Given the number of gods that inhabit the minds of individuals, countless gods could outnumber a single nation. The survey could not offer a list. The New Age borrows from the old age of ancient Greece and Rome. The Pantheons would be a meager bunch compared to the number one could count today.
Many gods have arisen because people have sought to imagine God according to the elements of creation. They then depart from the path of knowing the one true God onto another dark, dangerous, and destructive road of idolatry. The study and knowledge of God is a thoughtful lifelong process requiring dependence on Him and what He reveals to us in the Bible.
No one can know God rightly without God first revealing Himself to that person. A corollary to this truth is that no one can then seek after Him unless God first not only reveals Himself but also draws the heart to Him (Romans 3:10). For unless God takes the initiative with each act, everyone in his or her human condition will seek another path. Many have claimed that people across the world cry out for God and seek after Him. If we are to believe Paul the Apostle in his statement in Romans 3:10, these many cry out for that which is greater than themselves but one like them. They want a savior much like Israel wanted a king like the other nations. Corruption brings about such perverted desires. Albert Mohler refers to these perverted religious desires as making God into a “therapeutic category” (The Eclipse of God at Century’s End: Evangelicals Attempt Theology with Theism). Paul quotes from the Psalms of the Old Testament:
The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside…” (Psalm 14:2-3)
When the real God shows up, people exclaim,
“That’s not God, not the god I desire, one I can see, feel, and hear, one who pats me on my back and consoles me in my predicaments, one who gives me wealth, health, lots of toys, recognition, and popularity (instead of ridicule).”
C. S. Lewis wrote,
A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness, inside our own heads— better still. A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap— best of all. But God Himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband— that is quite another matter. There comes a moment when the children who have been playing at burglars hush suddenly: was that a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (‘Man’s search for God!’) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us?
– Lewis, C. S., A Year with C. S. Lewis (p. 3). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
As people reject the true biblical God, they create Him according to their imagination, raising in their minds what they want Him to be according to their own desires and their alienation from God. They then design an entire worldview around this god or these gods, projecting on these deities an authority that actually shifts this authority away from God to themselves. Note, it is not to another god to which they shift authority but to themselves. Once they have established their own authority, they can then project on themselves their present condition and include it into their worldview (“I’m OK, you’re OK, but others outside of our circle are downright nasty.”). As a remedy, they offer their own solutions from human-centered philosophy, religion, and psychology.
Seeking? Yes. Spiritual? Yes. Religious zeal? Yes. Seeking after God? No, that is until He finds us and gives us a willing heart and mind. All the rest of our seeking, according to Lewis, is dabbling in religion. God is not at all what we make Him to be. However, He is everything we need Him to be given our current state of affairs in this destructive, unenviable, hopeless, and violent environment in which we find ourselves.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17)
God loved. He gave. He sent. He saved (delivered from destruction). In His matchless initiative, He reached out to us in our religious dabbling, philosophizing, and therapeutic machinations. No initiative on our part comes infinitely close to His strong hand of mercy and grace.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!