Bible Topics
in the Christian Library
"Who Is God?" Making God In OUR Image

Making The God Of MY Choice (2)

Isaiah 40:18-25

John L. Kachelman, Jr.


I. The triumph of the Gospel over paganism in the Swedish north lands is punctuated with a number of intriguing stories. King Olaf of Norway once faced a group of pagan farmers who were armed and prepared for war. A meeting was called and Olaf exhorted the farmers to accept the true God and put away their idols. Gudbrand, the chief of the group, answered, "We know nothing of him you speak about. Do you call one a God whom no one can see? We have a god that we should have brought to the assembly today, but it is so rainy; and the sight of him will make your blood run cold." It was arranged that, if the next day was fair the idol would be brought out and after an examination the farmers would do either as Olaf said or else go to war. There god was Thor the Thunderer. Every day 5 cakes were set before him and as they disappeared, he was believed to have consumed them. The next day was favorable. The two armies grouped together on either side of a great plain. Olaf with his attendant, Grimkel, approached the chief. The pagan multitude parted as a great image, gleaming with silver and gold, was carried on the shoulders of men. It was set down in the midst of the field. The heathen chief proudly advance and said, "Where now O King is your God? I think He will be ashamed before this glorious god of ours, whom I see you fear." Olaf arose and answered, "You have talked much and greatly wonder because you cannot see our God, but we expect His arrival. You try to frighten us with your blind/deaf god, who cannot move and must be carried upon your shoulders. But now! Look at the east, behold our God comes!" All looked toward the east and at that instant Kolbing, a faithful servant of the King, struck the image of Thor with a large club, as previously instructed. The fragments of the idol were scattered on all sides and out came a great swarm of mice and rats. The Pagans were terrified. Olaf said, "You see yourselves what kind of god you have. This is the god to whom you offered gold/silver and fed the cakes. Take now your precious jewels from the grass and give them to your daughters/wives. Never again hang them on wood/ stones!" Olaf then offered the pagans the alternative of fighting his armies or accepting Christianity. To fight was folly and the Pagans submitted and were baptized. Thus was idolatry erased in the 11th century!

II. Our series is asking a very sobering question -- Am I guilty of idolatry? Not necessarily bowing down and offering cakes to Thor, but taking the biblical God and modifying Him to be something different than what He is in the Bible. Such is a startling thought. "Idolatry" seems too ancient to be practiced today, but it is widely practiced. Even Christians are guilty of practicing idolatry! A common practice is to re-design the God of the Bible so that He becomes more comfortable to my belief system. Here are a few of these "re-designed gods."


A. The God of MY Cause.

1. Many today are involved in critical Causes. We live in a time when almost every aspect of culture seems unstable and some group is trying to restore that stability. Of course, in whatever Cause one supports it is THAT cause that is most important and THAT Cause which deserves the best support. Who else is a better support from MY Cause than the Almighty God? If God is a part of MY cause then I cannot lose! 

2. The problem -- this thinking depreciates God by making the Cause larger than God. The Cause begins to dictate God's approval, etc. The end result (the triumph of the Cause) is the object of devotion! 

3. In society this has been seen as God becomes the Heavenly Champion for oppressed nations, the feminist agenda, the ecological propaganda, carnal wars, etc. In case after case, the God of the Bible is re-defined so as to serve the Cause. The end result -- the Sovereign becomes the Slave! What is seldom noticed is that the Cause was prompted because of Selfish interest and Self fashioned an appropriate idol to help give supernatural help to our Cause! 

4. This revamping of God has led to the modern concepts of the God of the Bible being models of the Divine Mother, the Divine Lover, the Divine Friend. "What God really is shouldn't concern us; what matters is finding an image of God that will be useful" (DMc, 30). 

5. I Sa 4:3-8 illustrates this kind of idolatry. God is "used" to support a Cause. His deity was limited and changed by man's idolatry. 

6. This "god of MY cause" is an amazing thing -- he will unite me with those holding contrary beliefs on every-thing EXCEPT on the one Cause for which I modify God to champion. Such strange alliances reveal the self-centeredness of this form of idolatry -- union exists for just one purpose! (cf Mk 3:6).

7. We must be careful lest we allow some cherished Cause lead us into idolatry where we compromise many doctrines just so we will agree upon one (1 Jn 5:21).

B. The God of MY Understanding.
1. Some commit idolatry by restricting God to the way WE want Him to operate; the doctrines WE want Him to stress.

2. In this idolatry we draw fellowship by the criteria WE like. Often in drawing such lines, we force God to condone/condemn what Self prompts. Such is illustrated in the multitude of religious creeds/ confessions that divide the world. What started as a well intended act results in imprisoning God and deluding ourselves. The practical impact -- WE decide what is important, WE force God to subscribe to our list, WE believe that God feels very much at home in the list and is "not comfortable" with anyone who does not subscribe to our list! This produces an "arrogant certainty" by which idolatry is practiced (Mt 23:2-4) and awaits God's harsh condemnation (Mt 23:13-33).

3. The basic problem -- we limit God by what WE want to understand! We define "God" in the way WE want to understand Him (cf. 1 Ki 20:23). 

4. Many today understand God only in terms of "grace" or "love" because they do not want to understand Him in any other way. Once they step back and examine the god they have re-designed, they find that he is too trivial to be worth the effort (if God is all grace, no law, then why be concerned about godly living? Why insist that anyone obey the gospel?).

5. The only way to find the true God is to possess understanding of ALL the Scripture says about Him (Ep 1:17-18; Col 1:9). A rigid catechism or a permissive faith only erect idols and never provide a true understanding of God.

C. The God of MY Experience.
1. This is one of the most favorite idols in religion today -- mankind places feelings and experiences as the ultimate god. The God of the Bible is thus defined by MY experiences -- if I feel it, it must be true!

2. This idol is very destructive because it allows the subjective to mold the spiritual and ignore the objective revelation (Scripture). It is often phrased, "I know what the Bible teaches, but I feel about it differently!"

3. This idol seduces us to change God's commands in critical areas. "'Some of us were wondering whether it is really possible to worship God in this church.' I knew what she wanted, but I forced her to stammer it out: she wanted a particular style of worship, a more intense emotional experience with certain praise choruses and speaking in tongues. Anything other than this, in her thinking, could not be genuine worship" (DMc, 35). 

4. This "god of MY experience" becomes for some the only standard of authority in religion (cf 2 Ki 17:28-33). Those who idolize this god are constantly whining for the exciting, the sensational, the goose-bump religion but fail to find the security of objective faith in an absolute God. They bounce from one experience to another; from boredom to sensation back to boredom. For them worship/service to the biblical God is never satisfying (cf 2 Ti 3:2-9).


I. Here then are 3 "gods" idolized by our modern mind. Such redesigns of the Almighty God will provide comfort for our Causes, security in our beliefs, and assurance in our experiences BUT such will never provide the content-ed peace that passes all understanding.

1. If I worship the "god of MY Cause" I will live life inconsistently.

I will wander from Cause to Cause and force God to fit my agenda instead of crucifying Self and accepting God's commands (Philip 4:1-6).

2. If I worship the "god of MY understanding" I will limit the Almighty God to what I want Him to be and will never find the freedom that comes from knowing the whole Truth of God (Jn 8:31-32).

3. If I worship the "god of MY experiences" I will forever live enslaved to emotions or sensations and will never know the absolute security that is provided to those who follow Scripture (1 Jn 5:13).

II. Is 17:7 -- Mortals have no choice but to "have regard" for the Almighty God revealed in Scripture. This word refers to a steady gaze because one is very interested. "It is never a casual or disinterested glance ... Isa 17:7-8 God says that the time is coming when a 'man will regard his maker' and no more have regard for the alters which his hands have made" (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Vol 2, 944).

In such times mankind will be concerned only in what the Scripture says about the Almighty God. In such times personal crusades, understanding, and experiences are never allowed to re-define God's commands and will for man. In such times the honest Believer joins young Samuel and pliantly says, "Speak Lord for thy servant listens."

Copyright 1999 by John L. Kachelman, Jr. may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no cost to others.

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