14 Sep Hope and A High View of God
Pastor and author A. W. Tozer wrote, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” This may seem like an obvious over-simplification at first glance. But take a moment to ponder these words. What we believe about God shapes our entire outlook on life. Whether consciously or subconsciously, our theology (literally translated “words about God”) influences our thoughts and behaviors. It influences our financial decisions, the way we parent our children, and our approach to handling conflict, among others. It’s also the foundation that we stand upon when the reality of living in a broken, fallen world rears its ugly head and we find life not going our way.
The thing is…our thoughts about God don’t have to be accurate, or derived from Scripture, to shape our lives. We can get our thoughts about God from anywhere. In fact, I would contend that most of us have, to one degree or another, followed in the steps of the ancient Israelites and created our own god (Exodus 32). But rather than fashioning a golden calf, we have constructed a rag doll out of the “scraps” that have influenced us throughout our lives: a beloved friend, teacher, or relative, a movie or book that had a deep impact on us, a song that resonated with our spirit. Perhaps we’ve even added our own thoughts of what a loving, just God would be into the mix. And we don’t even realize that we’ve done it. But do it we have, and in the process, allowing our incorrect view of God to shape our lives.
When it comes to our theology, we can either hold a “high” or “low” view of God. Holding a low view of God is easy. In fact, it’s what comes naturally to us in our sinful state. A low view of God is what arises when our view of man…of ourselves…is too high. When we become preeminent in our own eyes. And that has been the story of humanity since the Garden of Eden. An exalted view of man allows us to (even imperceptibly) shape God into our image, according to our preferences. Instead of basking in the awe and majesty of God, we expect Him to serve us.
“Christians are like teabags, you don’t really know what they’re made of until you put them in hot water.”
There’s an old quote that goes something along the lines of, “Christians are like teabags, you don’t really know what they’re made of until you put them in hot water.” And it is when we are put into “hot water” that our thoughts about God become the most evident. What we believe about God will determine our response to our circumstances—for better or for worse. This is why it is absolutely crucial that our beliefs about God be true.
Borrowing from A. W. Tozer again, “A low view of God is the cause of a hundred lesser evils. A high view of God is the solution to ten thousand temporal problems.” Life brings its fair share of heartaches, there’s no mistaking that. But the impact those heartaches have on us is greatly influenced by our view of God. If our view of God is low, then whatever situation we find ourselves in will be for the worse. Thankfully, if we hold to a high…biblical…view of God, the opposite is true. That doesn’t mean we won’t be touched by pain, but the difference lies in one word: Hope (1 Thess 4:13).
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.– 1 Thessalonians 4:13
So, how then do we get a high view of God? For starters, we must posture the attitude of John the Baptist and say, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30). We must lay our pride down before God. And although that is an unnatural task for sinners like us, it is only the beginning. We must also determine to know God on a deep, intimate level. While certainly God reveals Himself to us through His creation, we learn more about a person when they verbally share information about themselves with us than we do by simply observing their work. Thankfully, God has given us a collection of His words that thoroughly and accurately reveals Him to us: the Bible. It is on the pages of this holy text that we see the character, nature, and heart of God.
Just like any relationship, the more time we invest in it, the stronger our relationship with God will be. In order to hold to a right, high view of God we must be spending regular time in His Word. If we began to date someone new, or make a new friend, we would not feel that we could adequately get to know him or her by listening to someone else talk about them for 30 to 60 minutes each week. We would want to spend time with them ourselves and learn all that we could about him or her. This is what happens when we study the Scriptures intentionally. We become well acquainted with God on a personal level. We are transformed through the renewing of our minds so that we see both God and man in their rightful place (Romans 12:2). We see the errors in our theology and replace the god of our creation with the God of the Bible. As the way, we think about God (and ourselves) changes, the way we approach everything in life changes. We start to become like the apostle Paul, able to look beyond our circumstances to the glory and wonder of God, no matter what situation we may find ourselves in (Phil 4:11).
Every single word of the Bible was written for our instruction, that through the endurance of the Scriptures we might have hope (Rom 15:4). God did not give us His Word merely as a history book, or a collection of wise sayings. He gave us the Scriptures as a means of giving us Himself. In Him, and Him alone, do we find our deepest hope. But that hope is not a magical type of fairy dust that is sprinkled upon us the day we profess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. It is a gift that’s ours for the taking…we need only open the pages of Scripture and unwrap the truths found there.