Creating God in Our Own Image
Feb 9, 2014 2013
The way that people see God depends on their upbringing, culture, education, life experiences, and their mental state. In many ways it is true that people have created God in their own image: narrow-minded people serve a narrow-minded God, resentful people serve a resentful God, small people serve a small God, legalists serve a legalistic God. Others serve a great big God whose forgiveness is unconditional, whose mercy is boundless, whose companionship is personal, and whos currency is love. And of course, when you get a group of like-minded people together, hey presto, you have a new religion or a new denomination! Why do different people see God so differently?
Human beings have been trying to create God in their own image from the beginning. The Children of Israel at Sinai didn’t want the awesome God who parted the sea and who thundered from the mountain; they wanted a God whom they could understand, and so they made a golden calf – something they were familiar with in Egypt. Paul tells us in Romans 1:25 how people want to serve the creature instead of the Creator. This is just part of human nature – and fallen, sinful, degenerate human nature at that – to have a God who is just like us – a God whom we can control. Because what we create, we can control.
It is just part of human nature for us to rely on our own experiences, our own upbringing, our own intellect, when it comes to understanding what God is like, particularly in the absence of an objective revelation of God. We live in a world in which many believe that there is no objective truth, that there are no objective standards, and that our experience determines reality. And so we are seemingly free to create God in our own image.
God forever obliterated any validity to that kind of thinking when He broke into this world in a real, objective, temporal and historical sense in the person of Jesus Christ, who came in the flesh to show us what God is like. God did this not in an abstract, intellectual sense, but by living among us for decades – as a totally objective revelation of God.
That’s why knowing God is totally by faith. Our own experiences, upbringing, education, and culture are largely subjective things – they require no faith. But believing in what God is like requires faith, because faith requires an object. And God has provided it in the person of His Son Jesus Christ. And that’s why salvation can only be totally by faith in what Jesus Christ has done – actually, historically, and objectively. That’s the basis of peace and assurance – the only basis there can be.
And because knowing what God is like requires faith, God often has to uproot our understanding of Him from our family, from our education, from our experiences, and sometimes even from our church. You see God doing that time and time again in the Bible; He does it time and time again in our lives.
Because to know God means salvation. And God desperately wants us to know Him – not the God of our culture, not the God of tradition, not the God of our religion – but Jesus Christ who gave His life for you. May your understand of God expand eternally, so that you will see His love and mercy break every boundary and every barrier in your life too!