Growing up I had very little concept of having a relationship with God. I knew about my need to be saved and that I could only be saved through faith in Jesus. But the idea of a real relationship with God was a pretty foreign concept. One of the ways that this idea showed itself was in the way I thought about being in God’s presence. The way I thought about being in God’s presence was really not at all. Thinking back I can’t think of any notion I had of being in God’s presence. I don’t guess I even thought about being in God’s presence in church.
I think I could best describe my view of God as Biblical, yet incomplete. For instance I knew that the Bible said God loved me, but I didn’t really understand that God loved me. I knew the Bible taught God was actively involved in our lives, but I didn’t really understand that God cared about me. I knew that Jesus died for my sins, but I didn’t really understand what that really meant. I knew I was supposed to love and serve God, but I didn’t really understand that I could serve God because I loved Him.
I think many people, if not most people, go through periods of their lives where there are problems in their view of God. For instance, to some people, God is the Creator of the world. However, He is far off in outer space someplace. He is not too interested in them or in their day to day lives. So they just go about living and doing pretty much whatever they want to do. If they get in a pinch or some tight spot and need help, they can call upon God and He might or might not help. To them God is just some big being off in some other world who is to be believed in, but not necessarily someone to get too concerned over since He is so far away.
To other people God is like a cosmic genie. His main job is to do whatever it is they want Him to do. They don’t want to go to hell, so God’s job is to forgive their sins so they can go to heaven. They don’t want to be sick, so God’s job is to keep them healthy. They don’t want to have financial problems, so God’s job is to keep them financially secure. They don’t want to deal with the consequences of their actions, so God’s job is to fix everything and make it all better. God really isn’t someone to be loved and served. Instead God is someone to be used for their benefit.
To other people God is someone to be feared. They think He is the Judge who hovers over them watching their every move and punishing them for every wrong. They fear lest God bring some kind of trouble upon them, some disease, trouble, heartache, loneliness, emptiness, and sorrow. This fear motivates everything they do for God. Their lives are lived seeking to appease God’s wrath lest He break their legs, burn down their house or kill their kids.
Despite the fact that none of these views accurately describe the God of the Bible, many people hold to one or more of these views of God. There are two main problems with all of the wrong views I just described—and really all wrong views of God. One is that they distort God’s character and nature.
To see God as someone who exists but doesn’t care about us is to distort God’s great love for us. To have this view of God we have to ignore passages like Matthew 10:30 where we are told that the very hairs of our head are numbered. To see God as a cosmic genie whose job is to serve us is to distort God’s greatness and glory. To have this view we have to ignore passages like Revelation 4 where we see that God is majestic, glorious and powerful.
To see God as someone that is just looking for a reason to smite us is to distort the grace and mercy of God. To have this view we have to ignore passages like Joel 2 where we are told that God is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry, full of unfailing love and is eager to forgive us.
The other problem with these wrong views of God is that they assume God cannot be known. All false views of God make it as though God cannot or does not want to be known in a real and personal way by those He has created in His likeness. To truly believe this we have to toss the whole revelation of Scripture away. Two of the main themes running through the Bible are that we can know God in a real and a personal way and that God wants us to know Him in a real and personal way.
Take a second and think about that. The God that created all things and sustains all things by His mighty power wants you to know Him in a real and personal way. The great, glorious and majestic God that is constantly worshipped by amazing angelic beings wants you to know Him in a real and personal way.
God wants you to know Him in a real and personal way. That thought alone should cause us to fall down on our faces in worship. But I wonder, do we really believe this? Do we really believe that God wants us to know Him in a real and personal way? The blog posts this week will focus on the fact that we can know God and experience His presence in our lives.
For further study read Hebrews 10:19-22.
What does verse 19 say we are able to do? What exactly does that mean?
How do verses 19-20 say we are able to do this?
What does verse 22 encourage us to do?