For all its beauty and wonders and opportunities, life is filled with problems. Some seem so trivial they’re hardly worth mentioning.
But I’m going to mention one, anyway.
Recently I had a problem with our local newspaper. Some days it never arrives at all. As I wrote these words, it had been three days without a paper laying in my driveway.
Okay, so it’s not an earthshaking dilemma. But I am of that generation that enjoys opening a (real) paper to the sports pages to catch up on the Blazers and Seahawks and our local high school teams.
But that’s not really a problem compared to the greatest of all challenges in life. How are we to have a relationship with a mysterious, invisible, all-powerful Creator? That is why I wrote God in His Own Image.
Last week, here on the Front Porch Swing, I shared about the innate desire within every human being to know God. Having been created in God’s image to enjoy a relationship with Him, we have a deep hunger to know God. As Augustine discovered, after first running away from God and then encountering Him later in life: “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.”
Those are more than just poetic sounding words. I believe they reflect the heartbeat of every person who is willing to stop and reflect on who they are and why they exist. Augustine’s words are my words. Your words.
Since God has created us in His image to know Him and enjoy a relationship with Him, there is no higher calling or more important pursuit in life.
But here’s our problem: Unless God reveals Himself to us; we are left to try to “figure” Him out by ourselves. That is what many have tried to do throughout history. That is, in fact, the subtitle to my book: “Loving God for who He is not what we would like Him to be.”
Driven by our innate hunger to know if there is “anybody out there” in this vast universe, we try to fill this soul-hunger by imagining who this God might be. Here’s a spoiler alert: Finding God through the imagination is not only a foolish endeavor, it is impossible. If a creator or creators exist, we cannot see them. They are part of a unique, other-worldly realm. We are blind people trying to imagine and paint a picture of a snow-covered mountain that we have never seen and cannot see! Whatever picture I try to paint on the easel canvas will be wrong. It won’t resemble that mountain.
I can only describe what I have seen or what I have experienced. I have never seen an atom, but I have been told it consists of protons, electrons and neutrons. I answered all the questions on the science quizzes, but the atom is beyond my ability to understand. Even so, I know very well that they exist, even in my own body.
I like to imagine the apostle Paul as a physician, or perhaps a great philosopher, diagnosing our problem. It’s not that God has neglected to reveal Himself to us, but rather that we have suppressed the evidence that exists all around us. Every atom and every galaxy in our vast universe is a witness to the Creator’s wisdom, skill and power. And, might I add, His mystery?
Having rejected God’s rule over our lives, there remains a vacuum in our soul that only God can fill. There’s a hunger to know the unknowable and invisible God.
Let’s cut to the chase. God has revealed Himself in several ways or, of if you will, in different venues.
Paul wrote that there is enough evidence in Creation itself to convince any person truly seeking to know God. We call this natural or general revelation. David’s words in Psalm 19 absolutely ring with it:
The Heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
(Psalm 19:1-3, esv)
Evidence for God is on display 24/7 everywhere we look.
Later in the same psalm, David shifts his focus from seeing God in creation to seeing God as He is revealed in His Word. We call this The Bible, the book that reveals who God is and what He has done to enable us to know and enjoy Him.
Finally, Jesus Christ came to reveal the Father. That is the point of Hebrews 1:1-4. The rest of the book of Hebrews displays Jesus’ superiority over every other “competitor” and over everything that exists, whether visible or invisible.
So what is our problem? If God has pealed back layers of mystery to display His glory in the creation and has revealed Himself in Scripture and through Jesus Christ, why would I write a book, God in His Own Image? After all, don’t we have all the evidence we need?
I didn’t write the book to convince atheists, whether real or wannabees. I have written to people who attend, or at one time attended, church services. Their view of God may have been skewed as a result of life experiences or as the result of a lack of good biblical teaching.
Unless we understand and accept God as revealed in Scripture, we tend to create God in our image. Someone we can manipulate. Someone safe. Someone who adapts to the changing culture and “moves with the times.” But here’s the problem: If God resembles me, He will be capricious, unpredictable, and severely limited in power and understanding.
Sadly today, even in our churches, we find people trying to recreate God in their own image, according to their own tastes. And they may end up with an artificial deity who is so loving, kind, and careful that He would never punish anyone. He will be a God who doesn’t control the future, and has to learn as He goes along, just like we do.
But of course that is no God at all. It’s just another man-made idol.
If God has created us to know Him and to enjoy Him forever, it is imperative we understand Him as He truly is. It is not ours to reshape God into our image. In fact, it is a deadly mistake with eternal consequences.
I much prefer to know and to love God as He is: Great, powerful, just and yet, loving and full of grace.
That is reality. He is reality.
So, here on the front porch swing, I ask if you know this God that can satisfy the hunger in the human soul?
Why not purchase the book, God in His Own Image? I believe you will come to love and appreciate God through reading the book.
What am I reading?
I am finishing The Storm Tossed Family and will return to The Essential Jonathan Edwards. I think I may also read God in His Own Image when I receive my first copy in a few weeks. Recently I commented that waiting to hold the first copy in my hands is kind of like waiting for the arrival of a new baby.
Thanks for the support and encouragement I have received from several of you.