Even God, like just about everything else, has largely become a watered down, pop-icon.
A.W. Tozer, in his book “Knowledge of the Holy” wrote:
“The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God.”
Tozer correctly points out that our view of God is critical, both as individuals and as a culture. What we think of, when we think of God, is the most important thing about us. If God is far away, impotent, and indifferent, then how we view Him, speak of Him, and portray Him in culture will be casual and without respect.
But what if God is as the Bible describes Him?
For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him, all things hold together. (Colossians 16-16 )
Do we believe in this God?
I think about the songs I write. It takes hours, trial and error, collaboration, many revisions, and when a song is complete - it’s OK. To think that God created everything we see, in all of its creativity, complexity and magnificence by simply breathing out - do you believe in this God?
What I see in our culture today is a God who is mocked, and Jesus is used to make cheap jokes and sell more t-shirts. And it’s not the secular world I’m talking about exclusively. I am not surprised by the reality that the unchurched don’t revere God, why would they? I’m talking about Christian culture. Our idea of God has become so common, so crass, that we dare utter such irreverent nonsense as “Jesus is my homeboy.” Why have things become this way?
In the new Testament, the disciples (when speaking to Jesus) used ‘Lord Jesus’ or ‘master.’ They were intimate with him, but they had great reverence for Him.
I believe the source of the problem is two-fold. Firstly, it’s a problem of emphasis. We are so weary of the wrathful, Holy depiction of God that we’ve reduced Him to love and grace.
God is loving, kind, and lavishes grace on us daily, but what makes grace profound is not that God forgives us because we are good; far from it! What’s makes the cross of Christ so incredible is that he died for us while we were yet sinners!
Wherever one aspect of God is elevated above the rest, we stray into dangerous territory. We have so emphasized grace that we’ve lost sight of the majesty of God.
Secondly, I believe it’s a surrender issue. We cheapen God, make jokes about Him, speak casually of Him because we simply aren’t surrendered to Him as Lord and Savior. We may be surrendered to a God of our making, but not the true King of Kings. If we were, wouldn’t we speak with greater caution and reverence?
I believe as Christians, and as a Christian artist, we need a fresh revelation of who God is. Yes God is our friend, but he is also King, and this is a good thing. If God is no different than you and I, then what kind of God would he be? I am grateful that God is not like me. I am thankful that God is not only good but powerful and Holy, and worthy of my respect.
I believe we ought to heed Tozer’s warning and ask God to show us who He truly is, so that as Christians, and Christian artists, we will once again show the world who God is: holy, powerful, and worthy of our worship.