The study today seeks to answer the question “Why must I be real? Why must I be a doer of the Word?” The simple answer is, because God is.
What is the first thing you think of when I say the word “Tacos”? Answers include “amazing,” “Taco Bell,” “Kendra” and so forth. How about when I say the word “Dogs”? Some say “ugg,” other “cute.” How about the word “Clowns”? The group responds with adjectives such as “freaky,” “scary,” “big red noses.” With clowns – you either love them or you hate them. To be honest, I don’t know many who are in the former category. If all you ever knew of clowns was a happy Ronald McDonald at your birthday party when you turned six, then you will probably be ok with the idea of a clown. However, if you have ever watched a movie with a spooky clown, even the thought of one will give you shivers.
Now, how about the words salvation?….. church?….. God? All different responses. A.W. Tozer said in his book, The Knowledge of the Holy, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The greatest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most [important] fact about any man is not what he at an given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like” (pg 9).
You see, how we view God will affect how we live our entire life. No one can escape that fact. Some will say, “I don’t believe in God, so it doesn’t affect me.” Wrong answer. It does affect you. How you view God (or how you choose not to recognize God) will play out in everything you do from your choice of professions to how you treat your parents to how you brush your teeth. It is like those yellow tinted glasses, you know, the ones that turn everything you look at into a “1960’s-I’m-Happy” picture. The glasses through which you view God will color your whole life.
So, the question is, how do you view God? How does the world around us view God, Scott in his book, Exemplary Husband outlines a few different view of God found today. (Not the typical textbook on theology, I know, but I was reading through it and found them interesting) The list is much lengthier, but we will look at a few.
A very common view of God is that He is a Domestic Gene. He is basically obligated to deliver based on our behavior, the same way a genie is obligated to grant wishes to the one who rubs the lamp. Thoughts such as “If I am “good” – I will get what I want in this life and the next.” Or, “God owes me what I want” rule this persons life. If things are going well, the person is happy because he is getting what he thinks he “deserves.” In this person’s view, they essentially are the god.
The downfall of this view is seen when things don’t go as planned, when the job falls through, when the house goes back to the bank. This is when the person decides that God is either 1. Not loving, 2. Not All Powerful or 3. Not alive. This person normally falls off the face of the religious earth when it comes to any form of real Christianity.
A second view sees God as a Distant Ogre. He delights in forcing others to do what they don’t want to do. This god has been advocated (at times inadvertently) by pastors or missionaries saying things like, “Don’t tell God that you don’t want to go to Africa, because guess where you’ll end up? Africa!” Or, “Don’t ask for patience because God will hit you upside the head with a 2×4!” To this day I still hesitate to pray for patience!
This god enjoys inflicting hardship on His children. This is directly contrary to Scripture such as Matthew 7:9-11 and Psalm 145:8. While it is true that God uses trial in our life (Job, James 1, Hebrews), He does so because He loves us and we are His children in need of correction.
Others see God as some kind of Spiritual Psychotherapist. He exists merely to help them feel better, function better and get more out of life. This god would never discipline for that would hurt one’s “esteem.” This is a very low view of God and a very high view of man.
Others see him as a kindly old Grandpa or a Cosmic Santa Claus. He cannot bring Himself to really hold us responsible for our actions and therefore ignores or overlooks our sin. (for more about these categories, check out the afore mentioned book, chapter 2). This god is “safe.” A wise beaver once corrected a false belief such as this. “Aslan a Man!? said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh!” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he- quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” “That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver, “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.” “The he isn’t safe?” said Lucy. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King I tell you” (The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis, 146).
Still others prefer to think of God as a casual bystander. He is unable to do anything about what is happening in this world. He may like to help, but he can’t. Maybe he doesn’t want to. Either way, he set the world in motion and is watching it unfold.
None of these describe the God of the Bible. They are extremely far from it. We are going to take a brief look at Romans 11:33-36. In the context of these verses Paul is speaking about the mystery of God’s working with the Jews and the Gentiles, specifically in salvation. He has waded through some pretty heavy spiritual things from the beginning of Romans until the end of the eleventh chapter. He began with man’s exchange of the true God for their own ideas. He hammered down the fact that none of us are righteous, no not one! He explained that through one man sin entered this world, and by one Man we can have life. He fells false ideas about sanctification like a tornado through a forest. He draws out the implications of God’s adoption by explaining that “neither height nor depth…” He begins to explain the Gentiles place in salvation and God’s future plan for Israel and then stops. It is as if he had been hacking his way through the jungle and just freezes in place. Before him is magnificent view of miles of lush vegetation, cascading waterfalls and exotic animals. He freezes and says, “Wow!”
He just basks in the glory of God for a few verses. “33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord,or who has been his counselor? 35 Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
God’s riches are deep (33). God’s wisdom is deep (33).God’s knowledge is deep (33). No one has ever know the mind of the Lord (34). No one has ever been the Lord’s counselor (34).God has never been indebted to anyone (35). Everything is from God (36). Everything is through God (36). Everything is to God (36). He deserves the glory (36). He deserves this glory forever (36).
He says a few phrases about who God is, and then tells us how it ought to affect us. This passage is immediately followed by an appeal to present oneself as a sacrifice (12:1-2). The reason why we ought to be doers of the Word. The reason why we must “be real is because God is. That is it. Because God is. It is the very reason why we live, it is the very reason move, it is the very reason we are. Because God is.
The flow of the passage is: 1. Discussion of God’s plan 2. Outburst of Praise 3. Call to godly living. How can we miss that? The answer to the question, “Why should I really care?” is right here. If you view God in any other way that how He explains Himself in Scripture you will come up with a different conclusion. The simple fact is “God is the source, means, and end of all things. He is the Creator, Sustainer, and the goal of everything. Therefore He should be praised and glorified forever” (Nelson Bible, 1901).
So, how would taking a different view of God affect the way we live our lives? If you fail to see God as deserving all the glory, you will soon become your own god. You will exchange the true God for yourself. Because all things are from Him, and through Him, and to Him we must live completely for Him. We must be real.
If you have followed me through all of this you will now be faced with a decision. How are you going to pursue the correct view of God? What will you do in order to know God? What areas of your life do you need to change? Well, what are you going to do about it?