Saturday, February 11, 2012

Whose Image - God or Yours?

The following is an excerpt from Matt Chandler's sermon, Affections Matter, preached on 1/29/12:

Now I want to show you how deep the gospel penetration went into Ephesus. We are going to go to verse 21 (Acts 19). “Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, ‘After I have been there, I must also see Rome.’ And having sent into Macedonia two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while. About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines to Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods.”

I love Demetrius. I want to have him in my house for dinner. Because one of two things just happened. Either he legitimately believes that, when he is making these silver images, he is making a god, or he thinks he just got busted by Paul. But either way, he’s undeterred from continuing on from his course of action. I don’t know what’s crazier. He either thinks that, when he is hammering silver into shape, he is building a god.

Just for the record, how powerful is a god if you made it? Like if you could manipulate it and make it, how could it possibly be god? How tiny and weak is your god, if your god is dependent upon you? This is Paul’s argument in Acts 17, “God is not made by any, He is not served by any human hands. As if He needed anything. He gives breath and life to all.” This is a very subversive attack on idolatry in Athens and Ephesus.


I was not intending to write this blog tonight but I just had to share this. It is so awesome. I have heard the teaching before that says, "Are you trying to create God in your image instead of learning what it means to be made in His?" And that is absolutely spot on and something we should continually ask ourselves. But I love the way Matt has expanded that thought.

I am thinking back to some of my witnessing experiences and the individual across the table from me would constantly try to dismiss the attributes of God that are laid out in the Bible and replace them with things they found more appropriate. Examples include:

-God is love so everyone will be saved
-God is a passive observer because I don't feel or hear Him in my life
-God is the one who gave me these desires so how can it be sin to act on them
-God allows pain, illness and depression to persist so He doesn't care about me
-God is the only one who can change me so I will just wait until He does something
-God can't be eternal because I can't comprehend eternity
-God can't possibly know everyone intimately as well as everything that is happening
-God can't exist because I can't see Him and you can't prove He does

Notice what these all have in common...they either make God much smaller or inept than He actually is, or in the case of the last point, take him out of the equation completely. The primary motivation to make God smaller is that it makes us seem bigger by comparison. The more important we perceive ourselves to be, the more relevance and self-worth we have according to this world we live in. But that couldn't be further from the truth.

The temptation is to create a god that you want. That does not bring about the reality of that god anymore than it did when a silversmith created a figurine with his hands. All you have done is fabricate the existence of a god that reflects your logic, your desires and your incredibly limited and finite understanding. How tiny and weak is your god, if your god is dependent on you.

I will worship the Creator of the Universe, the Alpha and the Omega, the eternal, omnipotent and sovereign Lord of all. I would much rather lack complete understanding and insight into the one true God than to delude myself into thinking that I have complete control and mastery of a god that only exists in my head. The only reason to do that is so you can continue to live and think the way you want without the conviction of having to answer to a higher Authority that may see things differently than you.

Is your narcissism so great that you would rather make up something useless than obey the One who created you to be truly useful?

"Make your choice. You can shut Him up for a fool, spit at Him as a demon, or fall at His feet and call him Lord and God." - C.S. Lewis