The God We Imagine vs. the God of the Bible

by Jonathan Whitaker

This past Sunday and then again on Monday (because of my inability to operate the camera above a 1st grade level), I preached on 1 Peter 1:13-25. Catch the sermon on our current sermon series, Identity: Who We are In Christ. All of our sermons are available on the website.  The two word tag line for these Bible verses is, “Be Holy.”  Holiness is a lofty call indeed and a deep topic to plumb in 30 minutes.  Needless to say, the sermon will only whet your appetite on the topic.  That is a good thing because holiness is something that you need to explore on your own as you get to know God.  The topic of holiness is naturally controversial, because holiness is an attribute of God.  And God’s holy nature is fundamentally at odds with our sinful nature.  When sin and holiness collide, strong opinions are sure to follow.  As people who have been born again in Christ (1 Peter 1:3), we must strive to align our beliefs about God to what God has said about Himself in the scripture. 

Every waking hour of the day you are exposed to stimulus that causes you to form and then reinforce your beliefs and opinions; culture, social circles, family, media, the list of sources is endless.  What is your primary source for your belief in God?  You have probably at one point in your life discussed a controversial topic from the Bible and had a person make the following remark, “I just can’t imagine God would do that.” Perhaps you have uttered that phrase yourself. 

As a Christ follower, you should be bothered by that statement.  Chiefly because God is not a figment of our imagination. What we imagine God to be like is irrelevant.  A Bible believing Christian should not have to imagine God at all.  The very notion belies the true issue that the person who would make such a statement doesn’t know what the God of the Universe has said about Himself in His Word.

The fact is we as Christians are blessed above all men, because our God valued a relationship with us so greatly that He descended into His own creation as the Man Jesus Christ.  He then left His inspired Word for us so that we can actually know Him.  Peter, who saw Jesus in His glorified state and then later resurrected, said that the Word of God (the Bible) is a more sure word of prophecy than even seeing those things with his (Peter’s) own eyes.  (2 Peter 1:16-21)  We have a God who can be known and has gone to great lengths to reveal Himself to all who will seek Him in the scripture.

So, what is the problem with trusting in your opinion or imagination of what God is like?  Well… it’s wrong!  God is wholly other than us, His ways are above ours and His thoughts are incorruptible. (Isa 55:8-9)   Psalm 50 points out the error of people who substitute their opinions of God vs knowing who God really is, “…you thought that I was one like yourself.  But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.”  God is not like us.  We must see when we substitute the truth about God for a lie (Rom 1) then we make ourselves the judge of God. 

“I just can’t imagine that God…” my friend you don’t have to imagine God.  You can know Him. It will take hard work and daily seeking, but the journey will be worth it.  God’s Word is like a bright light shining in the darkness.  It illuminates and reveals a God, about whom we were all ignorant until He revealed Himself to us.  It has the power to move us from the corrupt thinking of sin, where we imagine God in our image and it enables us to see the God who is nearby and present and able to be known. (Jer 23:22-23)