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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Is God An Idolator?

I thought about calling this "the most important person to God." I was thinking about this on the drive home from work yesterday morning, and it hits me that people don't ever talk about who the most important person to God is. What I have heard all my life are songs that say things like, "When he (Jesus) was on the cross, I was on his mind," or more contemporary tunes that charm us like, "Like a rose, trampled on the ground/He took the fall, and thought of me/Above All." When I would here people pleading with people to become Christians, I heard the moving statements like, "If you were the only one lost in the whole world, Jesus would have died just for you." All these statements, as innocent though they seem to be, are indicative of the American feel-good gospel that makes us "special" and "deserving" while God is indebted and obligated to us. Should it not be said that "God shall have no other gods before him?" Because God is God, he must be centered on himself, lest he be an idolator. This strikes right at the root of our man-centered gospel today. We think that we are the most important person to God, that because we know he loves us, we therefore, must be what God worships, right? Yet this logic and portrayal is foreign to Scripture. When God delivers, rescues, saves, or redeems (however you put it), he does so for his name's sake. First and foremost, in all God's actions and affinities, he is utmostly and ultimately concerned about his name, his glory, his testimony. "My glory I will not give to another" reverberates throughout the pages of Scripture. To attempt to list all the phrases of God's preeminent commitment to himself would be to keep you scrolling down this page with a worn out index finger. Some may think, "If God is wrapped up in himself, is he not a megalomaniac? How could this God who is so God-centered be loving?" Well, let me ask: "If God were to love anything/one more than himself, would he not be committing idolatry? Is it not most loving to give us what is best for us?" And clearly what is best for us is God himself. He is the gospel. For God to give us less, to be centered on anything else but himself, would be idolatrous to himself and unloving to us. God is for us, but supremely he is for himself. And if we are to be like him, we must be God-centered in our thinking, in our theology, in our practice, lest we find ourselves singing our praises to ourselves of how great we are. Admittedly, this is very counter-cultural, even counter-spiritual for believers today to do, for we think we derive our worth or significance by thinking that we must be man-centered in our Christianity. Why do you think the overwhelming majority of praise and worship songs are littered with phrases of "I will . . ." or "I am . . ." and so on? We start with us and not with God. We speak of what we will do, not what God has done. Our reference point is us, not with God, and then we assume that God must be like us - always thinking about us. Yet, the God of the Bible is not an idolator. He will not have any gods before himself. He is God and God alone, and our rightful place is in glad surrender and unmitigated humility in his presence. Clearly, the most important person to God is God himself. If it were any different, we would neither know love nor have gospel, and God would be found contradicting his nature of Godhood and would be charged with idolatry in the most grave sense.


Blogger Jimmy said...

This is a difficult thing to grasp for those of us soaked in the American church since childhood, but oh, what a thing to grasp! I find that this is not a selfish God, but a God more loving than one who loves His creation supremely.

I remember lying in a darkened hotel room one night after Piper preached this at Passion 05, trying to explain to Chris what I was (and am, in ways) still trying to understand.

I said, "Say you are a starving man, and I am a sandwich. I know that, as a sandwich, I am the thing that will satisfy your need. I am the only thing that will remove your hunger. Is it not selfless and loving of me to draw as much attention to myself, the sandwich, as possible, in order that you might live?"

Of course, this is a horribly crude analogy, but it helped me understand a little better why God being God-centered is not egotistic, but rather selfless.

Good post.

6/08/2005 05:03:00 PM

Anonymous Teashea said...

I have been reading Ezekiel 36. In this chapter, the Lord scattered the people of Israel from their land because they were polluting HIS name. Also in this chapter the Lord restores Israel back to their land. In verse 22 The Lord says to the house of Israel "I do NOT this for your sakes, O House of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake." In verse 24 "For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you." The Lord goes on to say that He will give them a new heart and a new spirit. In verse 27 The Lord says that He will put His Spirit in them and cause them to walk in His statues and that they shall keep His judgments and do them. In verse 32 it is repeated that It is not for the sake of the people but for God's name sake. I've been thinking of how at salvation God gave me a new Spirit that teaches me to keep the Lord's judgements and to do them. God saved me not because of my worth (which is nothing without Christ)but because it brings Him glory. I remember what Piper said at Passion. "God is most glorified when we are most joyous in Him." Let us live everyday joy-filled in Christ.

6/09/2005 12:41:00 AM


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