This is something that has been on my heart for a long time. Do we truly have a right view of God? Of who he is? Of his nature, his character? I would venture to say, that all too often, we do not. And you can be sure, a wrong view of God will lead to a distorted view of ourselves.
There is a tendency to forget just how high above us God truly is. We have brought him low in our eyes, and in conjunction with the elevation of self, we now exist on the same playing field as God, maybe even above him. At least in our perception. We emphasize his loving nature (and loving he most certainly is – he, by his very nature, is love! 1 John 4:8), but this is often done to the detriment of his other equal characteristics, such as his holiness, his just nature, his righteousness. We neglect to remind ourselves of his perfection and his perfect, holy standard. Because of that, we often fail to see how far we fall from that standard (I mean, we’re talking incredibly far – impossible to attain, in fact). We could all use a daily dose of humbling, a good reminder of our depravity and hopelessness apart from him.
We’ve become so chummy with God – calling him Abba, essentially the same as calling him Daddy. Now that is not wrong, the Bible tells us that as believers, we are adopted as God’s children and by his Holy Spirit we can cry, “Abba, Father!” (Romans 8:15). But I would suggest there is danger in simply calling him Abba, Daddy, without truly understanding his holiness and what that means. If you look throughout the Scripture, there is abounding evidence of God’s holy, just, wrathful, righteous nature – and when you even begin to grasp his nature even a little – you may start to view Romans 8:15 in a whole new way. The God who is Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe, the God who is perfect and set apart from sin, the God who will judge everyone with justice, the God who sits on the throne in heaven and looks down on mankind, the God who is everywhere, knows everything, and is all-powerful – this God is willing to sacrifice his only Son for your sin, give you his Holy Spirit when you confess Jesus as Lord and Savior, and through this Spirit allows you to call him Daddy! This is incredible. Perspective is everything. God is so great, and we, as believers, become his children, his heirs.
This whole idea of having a right view of God was pressed into me deeper today as I read through the first few chapters of Isaiah, specifically Isaiah 6.
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts,
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. (1-4)
Isaiah was given a vision of God in heaven, and just look at his reaction:
And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (6:5)
He saw the presence of God – the great majesty, holiness, and wonder of who God is and immediately he saw himself for who he was – a sinner! When he saw the holiness of God, he saw just how unworthy he was. He was stricken with shame. It gave him a right perspective of who he was. And this is not an isolated incident – Job (Job 42:6) and Peter (Luke 5:8) both had the same realization about themselves when confronted with the presence of the Lord.
Being in the presence of God is certainly not a common occurrence – but he has revealed himself to us through his Word, the Bible. He is not someone who cannot be known at all. Open your Bible and see! He has made himself known to us! And know that you can never form a true notion of God without the Bible. (If you want to read a book to aid you in your study of Scripture to this effect, I highly recommend Knowing God by J. I. Packer. He writes, “We must seek, in studying God, to be led to God. It was for this purpose that revelation was given, and it is to this use that we must put it” (p.23)). We are called to know God with more than just head knowledge – knowing who he is – and called to know him personally – knowing him!
I’ll close with these final words from Packer’s book, “The Christian’s instincts of trust and worship are stimulated very powerfully by knowledge of the greatness of God. But this is knowledge which Christians today largely lack: and that is one reason why our faith is so feeble and our worship so flabby. We are modern people, and modern people, though they cherish great thoughts of themselves, have as a rule small thoughts of God…He is eternal, infinite and almighty. He has us in his hands; we never have him in ours… the Bible never lets us lose sight of his majesty and his unlimited dominion over all his creatures” (83).
Humble yourself before the greatness and majesty of God, or you can be sure that he will humble you (Matthew 23:12).