This week's thought comes from A. W. Tozer's book "The Knowledge of the Holy." It has to do with the most important subject anyone can think about or speak about -- the existence, the Being, and the true nature of God. When I first read this quote years ago it struck me as being true beyond question and has since guided all that I seek to do in the ministry (though I still fail in various ways). There are few quotes I have gone back to and used as often as this one, simply because I feel it is so "right on." It speaks for itself, and I trust that like myself, you will find it is true in your own life and in the lives of others you know. It is lengthy, but well worth your time and earnest consideration! Enjoy!
"What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man's spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at any time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.
We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence is often more eloquent than her speech. She can never escape delf-disclosure of her witness concerning God. Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, 'What comes into your mind when you think about God?' we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man. Were we able to know exactly what our most influential religious leaders think of God today, we might be able with some precision to foretell where the Church will stand tomorrow...
That our idea of God correspond as nearly as possible to the true being of God is of immense importance to us. Compared with our actual thoughts about Him, our creedal statements are of little consequence. Our real idea of God may lie buried under the rubbish of conventional religious notions and may require an intelligent and vigorous search before it is finally unearthed and exposed for what it is. Only after an ordeal of painful self-probing are we likely to discover what we actually believe about God...
It is my opinion that the [current] Christian conception of God... is so decadent as to be utterly beneath the dignity of the Most High God and actually to constitute for professed believers something amounting to a moral calamity. All the problems of heaven and earth, though they were to confront us together and at once, would be nothing compared with the overwhelming problem of God: That He is, what He is like, and what we as moral beings must do about Him... Among the sins to which the human heart is prone, hardly any other is more hateful to God than idolatry, for idolatry is at bottom a libel on His character. The idolatrous heart assumes that God is other than He is -- in itself a monstrous sin -- and substitutes for the true God one made after its own likeness. Always this god will conform to the image of the one who created it and will be base or pure, cruel or kind, according to the moral state of the mind from which it emerges. A god begotten in the shadows of a fallen heart will quite naturally be no true likeness of the true God. 'You thought,' said the Lord to the wicked man in the psalm, 'that I was altogether like you.'
...Perverted notions about God soon rot the religion in which they appear. The long career of Israel demonstrates this clearly enough, and the long history of the Church confirms it. So necessary to the Church is a lofty concept of God that when that concept in any measure declines, the Church with her worship and her moral standards declines along with it. The first step down for any church is taken when it surrenders its high opinion of God. Before the Christian Church goes into eclipse anywhere there must first be a corrupting of her simple basic theology. She simply gets a wrong answer to the question, 'What is God like?' and goes on from there. Though she may continue to cling to a sound nominal creed, her practical working creed has become false. The masses of her adherents come to believe that God is different from what He actually is; and that is heresy of the most insidious and deadly kind.
Therefore, the heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian Church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worthy of Him -- and of her. In all her prayers and labors this should have first place. We do the greatest service to the next generation of Christians by passing on to them, undimmed and undiminished, that noble concept of God which we received from our Hebrew and Christian fathers of generations past. This will prove of greater value to them than anything [else]."
With prayers that the Church of this generation would retrieve its lofty and majestic understanding of God (as put forth in the Bible), and would fall prostate in adoring worship before our thrice holy God in whose presence even the angels cover their faces. May it be so, Pastor Jeff