For the past five weeks I have introduced the book, God in His Own Image. Now that the book has been officially released for sale on May 7, some of you have or should soon receive copies that you pre-ordered. Feedback from friends who have already begun to read the book has been encouraging.
Thank you for your support if you have already purchased the book. I trust you will enjoy the book, but more importantly that you will be stimulated to meditate upon the sheer majesty of God. I pray that your love for God as He is will increase. In fact, that is part of the sub-title of the book: Loving God for who He is, not what we want Him to be.
The first part of that subtitle, “Loving God for who He Is,” is where I’d like to focus for a moment or two. What would it look like to understand and love the REAL God?
It would begin with a passion or hunger to know God personally. If knowing or understanding God sounds a bit too brash, you are correct. Who am I, or we, to think we are up to such a task? Can I trot up to the “Burning Bush God” chattering like a child waiting in line to sit on Santa’s lap? Of course not!
Consider the adjectives we use to even begin to try to describe God. Words like holy and sovereign and transcendent are reminders of the incomprehensible gulf that separates us from the REAL God. Remember how Queen Esther risked her life to approach her own husband, the King of Persia, without an invitation? If that was hazardous ground for her, then who am I, a guilty law-breaker, to dare approach the holy, almighty God of the universe.
I wouldn’t or couldn’t. Unless, of course, I had been invited!
That’s the starting point in our pursuit to know God. We have received invitations from the very King above all Kings to approach. Consider these unmistakable invites from the holy, but hospitable God:
- Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. (Psalm 34:8)
- “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)
- “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come.” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” (Revelation 22:17)
How I love that word, “come!” It may be one of the most tender and welcoming words in the Bible: “Come!”
The pursuit of God begins with the choice to accept His invitation to come. In the Garden of Eden, God called out, “Adam, where are you?” These words weren’t part of a search and rescue mission seeking information from His “lost” couple. This wasn’t a childish “hide and seek” game. The all-knowing God hadn’t lost them. These words were more rhetorical, intended to drive home a truth. Something had changed. Everything had changed. The relationship had been broken. Fear replaced intimacy. Guilt had severed them just like divorce decapitates the one flesh relationship.
But God, the great reconciler—the great lover that He is—invites us to taste and discover a relationship that will satisfy our soul hunger.
So here’s a question for us: What can we expect when we accept and worship God for who He really is, not what we want to make Him? I believe we will face challenges. We will be swimming upstream against the current of our secular, post-Christian culture. But that’s nothing new, is it? Didn’t the early Christians face persecution when they worshipped this unseen Deity in a pagan culture saturated with idolatry?
What is more disconcerting is the challenge of swimming against the current of our contemporary Christian culture with its pop theology and a safe, politically correct God. That is why I have written the book.
Sometimes, in our pursuit of God, we may struggle with disappointment. None of us enjoy waiting for much of anything. But God doesn’t operate on our schedule, nor is our agenda always His. When we can’t make sense of God’s silence, let’s trust His character. In the lyrics of a song, “When you can’t see His hands, trust His heart.”
Remember the three young men who were threatened with death in the blazing furnace because they refused to bow to the government-sanctioned, manmade image? Remember their reply to the king’s threat? “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O King. But even He does not, we want you to know, O King, we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17, 18). These men loved God for who He is.
I believe that setting out to know and love God will result in personal blessings:
- We will discover the soul satisfaction that Augustine wrote about. Our hearts will experience joy and peace. We will learn to say, “It is well,” no matter what life throws at us.
- We will discover and enjoy an extended family. No matter where we may travel in the world, we will meet brothers and sisters.
- We will discover purposeful living. Nothing that we do will be in vain.
- We will experience enduring hope, because we know the God who knows the endgame. No matter the life situation we can sing, “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. O, what a foretaste of glory divine!”
I love that word, “foretaste.” Having accepted the invitation to taste and see the Lord is good is like enjoying a tantalizing appetizer while waiting for the lavishly wonderful main course.
In other words, the best is yet to come.