Genesis 1:26 (NIV)
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
In the beginning God. It’s shocking to stand back and look at where humanity has strayed away from the creator. I want to take a look at a few things in the next few pages.
- Who God is: His attributes and properties.
- Who we may think God is.
- Putting ‘God in a box’: How the act of squeezing God into our perceived image is the devil’s greatest deception.
- The dangers of ‘the box god’.
- How we tear up the box and get to God.
Perhaps the greatest inspiration for writing this today is this fact; ‘God Is’. And tied to that is an observation that the perception of God’s love, is being distorted all around us today more so than ever before. People and many of them Christian who have actually given their lives to Christ Jesus have a desire; innate capability to disengage from scripture and are attempting to reconstruct God into their own customized version of god and place him in a box nice and tidy.
Those that suggest God is ‘Pure Love’ and nothing more, distort the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While God is abundant in Love, He is a lot more than ‘just love’.
Their suggestion is that if God is really Love then He wouldn’t do anything to harm us. At most, we simply need to show a little affection back and ‘presto’, we all are ‘God’s children’. While this is perhaps an entertaining concept to those lost in their sin, it is a dangerously inadequate consideration of how God’s love is manifested to humanity.
The natural extension to this view of God, is that since He loves us, all of us, that what we do has little, if anything, to do with Him extending that Love to us. The expectation is that He will give his unconditional love without precondition; along with all the blessings we can handle. This is a pervasive creation creating our own version of god and putting him in a neat little box. Maybe even decorate it with some ribbons or something. Convenient to pull out and serve our purpose whenever we are so inclined.
This is so far from the truth, I would go as far as to say that, those that stand on the ‘God is only pure love’ bandwagon are tools of Satan and have been duped by the great deceiver.
God IS Love! But God is multifaceted and IS also many other things as well. He is all these things at once and forever. The problem with focusing strictly on God’s attribute of love is that we quickly dismiss the other attributes of our Heavenly Father and if you only focus on one aspect you find yourself conflicted when you’re faced with the fact that:
- God is Holy – So much so, that he can’t tolerate the presence of impurity.
- God is just – So much so, that all sin carries with it the same punishment.
- God is all powerful – So much so, that He spoke the universe into existence.
- God is ever present – So much so, that there is nowhere you can hid from his eye.
- God is all knowledgeable – So much so, that he knows our hearts, our intent and our ultimate destination before we ever choose our pathways.
- God is patient – So much so, that He waits for us to come to him.
- God is vengeful – So much so, that He will destroy that which doesn’t surrender to His will.
God is all of these things and while at first glance there appears to be conflict between that ‘Loving God’ we’ve constructed for ourselves and some of these attributes; there is not.
God first loved us. From the point of creation, God’s intent with humanity was to have a relationship with His creation. His love stems directly from his passion to create us. What he put in place in the garden with the first man and woman was a demonstration of that love. His consistent visits with them in the garden was evidence of that.
But the fall of mankind resulted in the separation of the creator from the creation. Why? Because, He cannot and will not tolerate sin. Adam and Eve’s disobedience was sin. As a result, a separation came between us and God.
He loved us so, and desired that this separation come to an end so that He could once again commune with His creation. What did he do? He sent his only son to us. Yes as an ambassador of His Love, but Jesus had a core mission. That was to forge a path to redeem the soul of man; to establish a new covenant between God and humanity; to be the single perfect sacrifice for all who would call on His name and repent of their sin.
We will not delve into depth on all of God’s attributes and properties. The list above isn’t even complete by any means. But we will focus in on some of those that can and do conflict with our God in the box.
God is Holy – So much so, that he can’t tolerate the presence of impurity
Isaiah 59:2 (NIV)
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.
Habakkuk 1:13 (NIV)
Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?
Salvation is ‘only’ available through His Son’s sacrifice. This is the Love beyond comprehension. This love coexists in a Holy God that cannot tolerate impurity.
John 14:6 (NIV)
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Yeah! Why do you tolerate the treacherous and are silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? Free will. God gave us free will. He could have made us robots that just loved Him without question or hesitation, but he wanted His creation to ‘choose’ to love Him.
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NIV)
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
God is just – So much so, that all sin carries with it the same punishment
Romans 6:23 (NIV)
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Bible doesn’t split hairs. The consequences of all sin is one punishment; death.
James 4:7-12New International Version (NIV)
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
God is the only lawgiver and Judge!
Now in some people’s minds for others to provide instruction in the scripture that is to them judging them. That is far from the truth of the matter. Point in fact, that we are commanded to be messengers of the Word.
Mark 16:15 (NIV)
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
To the contrary we are given the responsibility to spread the message of Christ and be both ‘light’ to illuminate and ‘salt’ to provide prudent notice.
Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV)
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Light is a fairly self-explanatory by itself. Jesus refers to the sinfulness of the world as ‘darkness’. Light of course chases away the darkness. Salt bears a bit more of an explanation. This word is translated from the original word ‘halas’ and used figuratively here it would directly mean prudence.
Going to the English dictionary this is the definition you can find:
NOUN;the quality of being prudent; cautiousness:
“we need to exercise prudence in such important matters”
synonyms: wisdom · judgment · good judgment · common sense · sense · sagacity · shrewdness · advisability · caution · care · providence · farsightedness · foresight · forethought · shrewdness · circumspection · thrift · economy
Hence, those obeying the Word of God and proclaiming the Gospel might easily be accused of ‘judging others, however, it doesn’t require much exposure to the Word of God to realize that only God is judge. His children ‘are’ his messengers to a lost world.
God is ever present and all knowledgeable
Psalm 139:7-12 (NIV)
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
There is no place that God can’t reach you. Inversely, He is always waiting for you to reach out to Him.
Hebrews 4:13 (NIV)
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Bottom line is that we can’t keep secrets from God. He knows our actions and our hearts; all of us; all of the time.
Putting ‘God in a box’…
While we haven’t covered all that there is to know about God from scripture, we have covered much of those attributes that come into play. So let’s walk though how we find ourselves walking away from God to create a god of our own.
Our made up god of love
We touched on this earlier so I will not belabor the point here. When we deny our god the other attributes that he possesses we neuter our god’s ability to respond to us. While the concept of a benevolent super being that worships the ground we walk on, may be an appealing thought, the reality of what we are doing is in fact denying God and creating our god with measurable limits (the box). This God cannot execute the judgement for sin as can the real God. This god is woefully unaware of what he’s said in His Word so since he loves everyone; everyone is just fine. This god also is able to coexist with sin and darkness even though the real God defines Light! Pretty puny god in an, oh so small, box.
Our made up wimpy god
That’s right wimpy god. Because the Real God is Omnipotent and has no boundaries to his capabilities. His very breath can speak the universe into existence. And even if we don’t create a wimpy god we often will try to stuff the real God into a box to limit the things ‘we’ want from him. Oh wait, which would mean that YOU are your own god now wouldn’t it? So, that would likely mean the real God isn’t going to be responding too well when you want to pull him out of the box to provide something for you. Yes that would be a made up wimpy god.
Our made up unaware god
We keep him in the box so he can’t observe those not so righteous activities we choose to engage in regardless of if we know they are wrong or not. When you have this god keeping an eye on things you can rest comfortably he’s not going to know the sin in your life and there is absolutely not cause to repent.
Our made up god who is hard too busy
You surely don’t want to bother God with everything so why not make up your own little god and call out to him only when you needed assistance the most. You certainly don’t want to over tax this busy god with constant requests that require his attention. My, my, what a limiting box this one has!
The dangers of ‘the box god’…
The danger for the Christian
Creating gods and putting them in their perspective boxes places the believer in danger of losing touch with the one true God. It’s a constant desensitization of our spirit when we place our invented gods before God. That quickly results in a loss of fellowship.
The danger of the non-believer
When one isn’t covered by the Blood of Jesus and adopts these self-made gods with their very own special containers, there is a sense of false comfort because we feel like we’ve embraced that someone greater than ourselves and that we are safe in the arms of The Master. When all the while we simply are in the clutches of Satan himself.
How we tear up the box and get to God…
James 4:7 (NIV)
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Surrender; give up your will in favor of God’s will for you. The god most frequently that is used as a substitute is ‘self’. The answer to god of self is to surrender to the one true God. Submitting your will to his is a major step.
Romans 10:9-10 (NIV)
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
It is faith that saves us. Faith that Jesus came, lived among men, gave himself as a perfect sacrifice for all sinners that will call on him. Faith that he was buried along with our sins and on the third day he arose victorious over sin and death to pave the path for your eternal salvation.
Acts 8:22 (NIV)
Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart.
Repentance is something that some don’t want to talk about but it is essential that we repent. Repent means to change one direction based upon a change of heart. This is a key difference between living the life or going through the motions. If you believe, surrender, and repent you are well on your way to obliterating the box and living a Christ centered life!
Romans 12:1-2New International Version (NIV)
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
The follow through; once you’ve committed yourself to Jesus it is time to follow through by seeking the ways to present your offering (not money) of self to God and dedicating yourself to the Way.
James 1:22 (NIV)
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
Listening and lip service does nothing to grow the Kingdom of God. In Romans you saw an example of commitment of a life to God. Here in James you see we are being to not just to sit on that but to put it in action.
Luke 9:23 (NIV)
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
The Way is a daily commitment to following Christ Jesus. Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit each step on the path you become strong and draw closer to Christ.
James 4:8 (NIV)
Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Drawing closer to God results in Him drawing closer to you. Read the Word, Worship; do what the Holy Spirit instructs you and see the results in your life. This doesn’t mean you will not have struggles. For certain if you are operating in the will of God, the devil is going to do whatever he can to trip you up. If he does, seek forgiveness and take up that cross again an follow Jesus.
Romans 12:2 (NIV)
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
THIS is what it is all about. Salvation is the starting point. What you’re really working towards is transformation in your life; becoming a new creation in Christ. Washed in his blood. Holy and pure in God’s eyes because of what His Son Jesus has done for your. That Grace is more than enough to carry you the distance so long as you follow!