Mortimer J. Adler was a very astute thinker and philosopher, and he was the co-editor of a 54-volume set called the “Great Books of the Western World.” In that series, containing some of greatest contributions to Western thought, can you guess what the longest essay was about? God. When Adler was asked why, he said simply, “Because more consequences for life follow from that one issue than any other.”
It’s true! The subject of God is consequential; it’s momentous. And not just for the person who gets it wrong, but also for those of us who have it right, for the Christian.
Each week, my pastoral staff and I receive people in our offices for counseling about life issues. It’s a privilege and a great responsibility. But I’ve noticed something important through this process: Many people have an inadequate view of God. They just don’t have it right about the nature and character of who God is.
In his great book, Your God is Too Small, J. B. Phillips describes the different ways that people imagine God to be. For example, there’s the “grand old man God,” an indulgent God who smiles down on everyone and winks at their adultery, cheating, stealing, etc. Then there’s the “resident policeman God,” whose primary job is to look for something you do wrong, to make your life miserable. Then, there’s the “managing director God,” who designed and created the universe but is uninvolved, distant, and aloof. And there’s the “God in a box God.” This is the private, sectarian God: “Well, my God is this way. Your God may be different.” All of these are inadequate views of God; they’re wrong.
Hebrew 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” That tells me that God wants to be known, that He can be known, and that He rewards us as we come to know Him.
Here’s a sampling of verses from the Bible: “If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever” (1 Chronicles 28:9). “There truly is a reward for those who live for God” (Psalm 58:11). “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11:10). “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).
Understand that God made the first move: “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). But that demands a response, and so we seek after Him. God is a personal God, and He interacts with his created ones.
People who are lonely need to understand the love of God and the accessibility of God. People who feel worthless or useless need to know the fatherhood of God, that they are uniquely loved by Him. People who are trapped by sin or by worldliness need to see the holiness of God, that He knows and sees everything—and that He can heal them, He can change them, He can redeem them.
The adequate view of God, the biblically sound view, is that He is more than adequate for all your needs!