Have you ever noticed the God that some today claim to believe in bears little resemblance to the God described in the pages of Scripture?
These people believe in a version of the God of the Bible, a mosaic deity they’ve unknowingly built out of a mixture of biblical truth, personal preference, and cultural sentiment. In many ways, some people create the God they worship like they’re making a batch of cookies or a birthday cake.
◻︎ Unconditional love
◻︎ Inexhaustible mercy
◻︎ Strong, soothing voice
◻︎ Selective omniscience (he doesn’t need to know everything about me)
◻︎ Genuine concern for the personal needs of people who vaguely know him
◻︎ Apathy toward competing truth claims
◻︎ Long white beard (optional)
- Ignore all passages of the Bible that make you uncomfortable and, instead, select your personal favourites while disregarding their respective contexts.
- Mix these quotes together with the suggestions of popular culture, paying particular attention to the declarations of celebrities and famous athletes. They’re so good at pretending to be other people or throwing a ball, they must know what they’re talking about in all other areas of life as well, no?
- Add a dash of what you think God should be like.
- Test your creation to make sure you aren’t personally offended at all. (If you are, then go back through steps 1–3 until you find him agreeable.)
- Let others sample your creation. There’s wisdom in pooled ignorance, so take into account what they think also!
The holiness of God
Sure, the above may be hyperbolic, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t partly true. We live in a culture that wants to serve a God that makes it comfortable, that affirms its every action and choice, and that never demands allegiance or submission. Basically, we want a God that serves us rather than the other way around.
But, that is NOT the God of the Bible. As much as God is loving and merciful and gracious and kind (and he is!), he is also just and jealous and holy. So very, very holy.
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory (Isa. 6:3)!
And, sometimes, God’s holiness isn’t something we’d add to our preferred recipe. For example, because of their disobedience and lack of faithfulness, God tells his chosen people: “I will discipline you, but with justice; I cannot let you go unpunished” (Jer. 46:28).
God is so very holy and his holiness cannot allow for sin to go unpunished. Cannot and will not. Israel had sinned and sin offends an infinitely holy and perfect deity and, therefore, it must be dealt with swiftly and fiercely. If not, God would cease to be completely holy!
As people who claim to follow the God of the Bible we must be disciplined to truly do that. We must follow the God of the Bible and not some jambalaya of our preferences. This doesn’t exclude his love and mercy (praise the Lord for that!). But it also includes his holiness.
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty— the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come. … You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power (Rev. 4:8, 11).
In fact, his holiness is one of the very reasons that he is worthy of our submission, admiration, devotion, and service. If we take that away from the God we supposedly serve, then we simply are not serving the God of the Bible.