I was one of three guys in a sea of women at a packed theatre last night for the opening of “Eat, Pray, Love.” Not that there is anything wrong with being one of a few guys in a sea of women, I just felt a little out of place . . . The movie was as bad as I thought it would be, but unraveled a lot of what I have been thinking about lately concerning idolatry, worship, and God. There was a quote in the movie that was pivotal for me in illustrating one of our greatest obstacles to our understanding of God. Here it goes: “God dwells within you as you yourself, exactly the way you are” (p. 192). In other words, God is like you. This is basically saying, “You are God.” This is simply and profoundly false!
In the book “Eat, Pray, Love” this idea is expressed this way, “We don’t realize that, somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme Self who is eternally at peace” (p 122). Is the author saying that this “supreme Self,” is God?! Is this god, little “g,” that dwells within us ourselves?! Nothing could be further from the truth; however, I believe that many people think this way. Many think they are looking at God, but in fact they are looking at and to themselves. If this is true that God is our “supreme Self,” then god is no bigger than our selves, illustrating the saying, “God has created humankind in His own image and we have returned the favor.” This sin is as old as Adam and Eve in the garden, and their wanting to be like God at the fall of humanity (see Genesis 1-3).
I have noticed among the youth and college students that I work with that there is boredom with God. It is my suspicion that this boredom is no boredom with the one true God at all. This boredom is with a lesser God, a self made and self resembling idol. If it is God that we are worshiping and following, we will not be bored at all. To paraphrase a quote from Saint Thomas Aquinas, who said, "If you comprehend God he is not God.” If you are bored with God, this is not God that you are dealing with at all. As it sits, it looks like most of the boredom that is being experienced with God comes from the same idol worship of a self made, self resembling, little god idol, as illustrated in the above quote from “Eat, Pray, Love,” “God dwells within you as you yourself. . .” So in effect, we are not bored with God, we are bored with ourselves and our idols because we have made “gods” of ourselves and other lesser things.
Our gods are too small. J.I. Packer, in his book “Knowing God,” says that most of us are “pygmy Christians,” because we serve a pygmy God. A pygmy is something that is weak, diminished in size, of lesser intelligence, or miniature. In other words, Packer is saying that our gods are too small. If we have a lesser god, are trying to add something to God, or subtract something from God, this is not the one true God at all, but a portion of God, a reduced version of God, a made up God, or manufactured God, or simply put, we have an idol.
John Stott commented on this by asserting that “Nothing is more important for mature Christian discipleship than a fresh, clear, true vision of the authentic Jesus." A.W. Tozer, in “The Knowledge of the Holy,” states that “The church has surrendered her once lofty concept of God and has substituted for it one so low, so ignoble, as to be unworthy of thinking, worshipping men.” He goes on to say that “With our loss of the sense of majesty has come the further loss of religious awe and consciousness of the Divine Presence.”
If we want to not be bored with God, we must get to know the true God and get beyond our own “spiritual narcissism,” as John Stott puts it. We are not God. It has been said, “There is a God. You are not Him.” Dallas Willard said it this way, “I have found the address of God; it is at the end of my rope.” To say it another way, if you want to get to know God, you must get beyond your limited self. Tozer puts it this way at the end of “Knowledge of the Holy,” “God is a Person and can be known in increasing degrees of intimate acquaintance as we prepare our hearts for the wonder. It may be necessary for us to alter our former beliefs about God as the Glory that guilds the Sacred Scriptures dawns over our interior lives.” We must drop our petty views of a “lesser god” to catch a glimpse of the one true God. We must rise above our self imposed presuppositions and projections of who God is for a clearer more biblical view of God. As Stott says, quoting Jerome, “Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ.”
Tozer, in his book “And He Dwelt Among us,” asserts “No Religion ever rises higher than its concept of God.” This sheds light on one of the more popular quotes from Tozer, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” If we are to grow in our relationship with God we must get beyond ourselves and begin to think rightly about God. If we are to grow in our faith and not just grow weary in boredom, our view of God must be a larger vista form a higher mountain. As the Psalmist says, in Psalm 61:1-2, “Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. . . Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Our concept of God must be a concept of God and not just a loftier exaltation of ourselves. It is then that we will find ourselves in worship and in awe.
May we come to know Jesus, and become more like Him as we see Him as he truly is as John says, “When He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
Gilbert, Elizabeth. Eat Pray Love. Penguin Group Publishing USA. New York, NY. © 2006
http://www.shepherdproject.com/resources/wordpress/?p=449, accessed August 14, 2010
The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. Ps 61:1-2
Packer, J.I. Knowing God, 20th Anniversary ed. Downers Grove, Ill. Intervarsity Press, © 1993, p. 12.
Stott, John R.W. The Radical Disciple. Intervarsity Press. Downers Grove IL. © 2010
Tozer, A.W. And He Dwelt Among Us. Gospel Light Publishing. Ventura, CA. © 2009
Tozer, A.W. Man: The Dwelling Place of God. Wing Spread Publishing. Camp Hill, PA. © 1966, 1997