What We Think About God
A. W. Tozer once said that what comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. And sometimes, what comes into our minds when we think about God isn’t very godly. Or, to say it another way, our thoughts about God often don’t look much like Jesus.
I came across this little bit of narrative from one of the novels of George MacDonald which I’ve enjoyed reading over the years. Listen to this description of a particular character’s idea of God and how this affected her:
“More than by interest, she was urged by an anxiety rooted in her ungodlike theories of God. She did not believe that God was unceasingly doing and would do his best for every [person]; therefore, she was unable to claim the assurance that he was doing his best for Ian….
“There are centuries of paganism yet in many lovely Christian souls–paganism so deep, therefore so little recognized, that their earnest endeavor is to plant that paganism ineradicably in the hearts of those dearest to them.” (MacDonald, George. The Highlander’s Last Song. Ed. Michael R. Phillips. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1986, p. 77.)
MacDonald speaks of “ungodlike theories of God.” He says that there is a kind of paganism, not technically but virtually, in our way of responding to God and speaking of God to others. Our attitudes and words betray assumptions about God’s actual level of initiative and even interest in our lives. Parker Palmer coined the phrase “functional atheism” for this tendency. (I wrote a little post about this a few years back: “Functional Atheism in Leadership Meetings”
- To what degree, at a practical level, do we live as though we’re mostly left to ourselves to figure out how to do what God has given us to do?
- How much do we trust in a God who longs to be gracious (Is 30:18) or delights in mercy (Mic 7:18)?
- One of the places we most need inward restoration is in our soul’s resident image of God. Do I live in a way that assumes and expects God’s goodness, kindness, gentleness, patience, grace and mercy? Or, do I live in a way in which one would assume my God is short-tempered, quite distant, unpredictable and rather harsh?
- What comes into your mind when it drifts towards thoughts of God? How godlike—Jesus-like—are those thoughts?