“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. For this reason, the gravest question before the church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence is often more eloquent than her speech.” – A.W. Tozer in The Knowledge of the Holy.
What do you think of when you think of God? Do you imagine an old man bathed in blinding light? Do you think of a close friend or a distant ruler? Theologian A. W. Tozer reminds us that our view of God is vitally important to our character. How we see God will directly influence how we live. When we think of God we must first and foremost remember that God is not just a concept, He is a real and indescribable being. In fact, if we view God for who He really is, we will be in awe.
It is impossible to know all of who God is. But we get glimpses. Even for people like Noah, Moses, Elijah, and others in Scripture that have talked with God and have experienced being in His presence in a very real way, it was difficult for them to see and understand who God is.
Moses talked with God during his encounter with the burning bush (see Exodus 3). During the Israelites wandering in the desert, God appeared to them as a pillar of fire and a pillar of smoke (see Exodus 13:21-22). Moses is one of the most loved and respected people in the Old Testament, but even he didn’t have a complete picture of who God is.
We are directly dependent on Scripture to give us the full view of Jesus. To know Jesus, we need to know Scripture. In Matthew 5:17 Jesus said, “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.” All scripture, from Moses and the Old Testament prophets to the Gospels, the books written by Paul, and Revelation, all reveal Jesus to us. If we ignore Scripture, we will not know Jesus. When we choose what we like in the Bible and ignore what we don’t, we get a distorted view of Jesus. Scripture reveals the true Jesus. Jesus reveals God to us.
A.W. Tozer’s perspective on God is very interesting and very true. Our very lives and character center on how we view our God. If we see Him as a weak, passive, and unnecessary God, our lives will reflect this. We will not trust or rely on Him. On the flip side, if we see God as powerful, active, and life-sustaining, we will cling to Him and praise Him as our Savior.
We must pursue an accurate view of God. He wants to have a relationship with us, and it starts by getting to know Him for who He really is.
- How did you develop your view of God? Do you believe it is accurate?