Making God As We Want Him

You’ve all heard it: “My God would never [fill in the blank]!”

When someone takes offense at a Biblical statement, that’s often the default response. The person doesn’t care what the Bible says about God’s nature; she simply wants God to fit into her preconceived notions of Who she thinks He should be. Sometimes she’ll even picture Him as a She. In essence, people who tell others about their God really believe in a god of their own making.

The God of the Bible, in contrast, has never tolerated such foolishness. As a matter of fact, He opens the Ten Commandments with a clear statement that we must worship Him instead of worshiping gods of our own imagination.

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before Me.

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. ~~Exodus 20:2-6 (NASB95)

Starting with verse 5, God explains His reasons for forbidding idolatry by revealing a few aspects of His character. The first aspect focuses on His jealousy, which few people would dream up if they invented an object of worship.

If anything , we want a god who doesn’t make any demands on us, and certainly not demands that we worship Him exclusively! The very idea of His jealousy offends people so deeply that they declare, “My God would never be so jealous.” Rather than submit to God on His terms, accepting even the facets of His character that they don’t like, they fashion Him into an idol suited to their tastes.

But in His jealousy, God resists our presumptuous attempts to bend Him into whatever we imagine Him to be. He is our Creator; we are not His creators. We may struggle to understand some of His attributes because of the limitations of our flesh, but our inability to fully comprehend Him does not negate the qualities that rub us the wrong way. God demands that we bow ourselves to Who He reveals Himself to be in His Word.

Through His prophet Isaiah, God makes it clear that we have no right to question Him, nor should we suppose that we know anything that He doesn’t. Consider, if you please, this following passage:

13 Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord,
Or as His counselor has informed Him?
14 With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding?
And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge
And informed Him of the way of understanding? ~~Isaiah 40:13-14 (NASB95)

When someone takes issue with various Scriptural descriptions of God, they essentially presume to counsel Him on Who He should be and how He ought to behave Himself. Ladies, that’s nothing short of pride! Anyone who counters Biblical claims by beginning a sentence with “My God would never…” exposes an unwillingness to submit to the Lord in humility, acknowledging His authority. God will not adjust His character to accommodate our preferences.

Most of you reading this post are Christians, and therefore hopefully accept God for Who He is. Many of you study the Bible with the purpose of knowing Him better, and I praise the Lord that you do so. That’s certainly my goal of seeing Him more clearly; I usually pray that He will open my eyes to Who He is every time I go to His Word. So I realize that few of you would dream of starting a sentence with “My God would never…”

But some of you aren’t believers, or you’re professing believers who don’t take Scripture seriously. Some of you have argued with Christians with the very phrase I’ve quoted here. While I do understand the struggle to lay aside your favorite ideas about God (every Christian has gone through that difficult process), let me encourage you to step back from your theories long enough to think about how the Bible portrays Him. Could it be that He really is above our limited imaginations?

Obviously, I believe Scripture does accurately portray God, and as a result I must maintain that people can’t determine Who He is apart from Scripture. If He truly is God, it follows that He alone has the authority to define His character. It just so happens that He is far more wonderful than anything we can imagine.

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