Another week, another study and this week we are thinking about the thoughts and ideas we have about God. We’re thinking about where they come from, what influences them and how we can make sure we do not have a distorted view of God.
Tozer writes “the essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him.” Yancey writes “our experiences of family and church combine with stray hints from literature and movies to determine what image of God we carry around” and then asks the question “How then do we know the true God?”
In Jeremiah 10, God speaks about the idols of His people and describes them as worthless (v3), sensless and foolish (v8). He goes on to point out that they are unable to speak, unable to walk and unable to do any harm (v5). Jeremiah respons saying “No one is like you, O LORD; you are great, and your name is mighty in power. Who should not revere you, O King of the nations? This is your due. Among all the wise men of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is no one like you”…But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King. When he is angry, the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure his wrath (v6-7,10).
Idolatry in our society today is a far thing from worshipping idols made of wood, gold and silver; yet if we take Tozer’s definition it is surely something that we are all guilty of. Idolatry is anything that we deliberately or subconciously put in the place of God, anything that deprives God of the worship, praise and honour that is due only to Him.
Alex Motyer writes that “We must not trim God down to the poor limits of a God small enough to suit our emotions and nice enough to fit our logic.” We talked last week about how we struggle to genuinely know and experience God and it is that same struggle which often shapes our understanding of what God is like. We also attirbute our understanding and experience (postively and negatively) to our God who is the very source and definition of those attributes. So for example; whether or not we feel loved, we know that God is not just loving but love itself (1 John 4).
Our understanding of who and what the True God is like will also affect how we live. So for example; scripture tells us that God is Jehovah Jireh (provider) yet we often ask will God provide for me in some adventure of faith when perhaps instead we should be asking whether He is in the adventure.
Of course none of this is easy and we all struggle to believe and genuninely experience that which we know to be true from scripture. Perhaps though, the more that we experience the true God, as He really is, indescribable, uncontainable, all powerful, incomparible, unchangable and untamable.
So is God worthy of our praise?
God knows that when we wholeheartedly praise Him, we are as satisfied as we can be. So when He insists that we praise and glorify Him, it is not vanity but the actions of a God who wants His people to be as satisfied and as full of joy as they can be, for when we praise God our joy is complete. John Piper said understanding this lesson changed his life. ‘What does it mean to glorify God?’, asks Piper, ‘It means to be as satisfied in Him as we can be’. Piper then writes, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him”.