Sunday, May 13, 2012

Our Greatest Need….A Vision Of God

The greatest need most people have is the need to see and understand God. I am convinced that the greatest shortcoming in our generation is the inability to see and understand God. If there were some way for us to communicate a vision of God completely, there is no doubt in my mind that people would flock to Him.


It is appalling how woefully ignorant our generation is about the Creator. It seems as though everyone wants a designer God, created just the way they like to think about God, and doing only what they want Him to do. They don't want a God Who gets in the way of what they believe. They don't want a God Who is going to affect their behavior in any way. They don't want a God Who speaks in "Thou shalt nots…." They want a God Who will say, "Oh all right. Go ahead." We do not want a God Who gives us moral absolutes, or Who imposes Himself on the decisions of our lives.

When I hear people talk about the kind of God they serve or want, I am even more amazed at the people of the Bible. Think about the kind of faith a man like Abraham must have had. God came to him in the desert and told him to gather his family and belongings and move to a land He would show him. Can't you just hear the discussion with a modern wife if we had experienced what Abraham experienced?

"We're going to do what? We're moving? Where to?"

"I don't know", we reply.

"What do you mean you don't know?", she asks. "Who is guiding us?"

"God," we say.


"What God? Did you see Him? What did He look like?"


"No," we say. "I didn't see Him—but I heard Him speak to me."

The wife replies, "Now let me get this straight. You heard a voice but saw no one. He told you to pack up your family and move and you don't even know where we are moving?"

That's the kind of conversation most of us would probably have, but I suspect Abraham's wife was much more faithful. She knew her husband, so she went with him to that unknown land. Just think about the kind of faith it took to do what they did for no other reason except that God asked them to do it. Wouldn't you like to think you had that kind of faith?

We live in a world that doesn't really understand when we say we know God, that we have a personal relationship with Him. If you say something like that to many people they will look at you like you are some sort of weirdo. People in our culture do not want to believe in anything they cannot see, hold and touch. Ours is a world that has to see God in order to believe in Him.

So it is that I conclude, the most pressing need we have in our generation is to the need for a fresh vision of God. But, we will not have it, at least not the way most people want it. Why? Because if God were to physically show Himself to us, we would not need faith. The Bible says we are saved through faith…there would be no faith…no need for faith, if we could see everything about God. So, without that vision we are left to other devices. One device we rely on is the Word of God. In God's Word we are given a wonderful collection of pictures of God.

One of the best is in, Isaiah 6. Isaiah said, "I saw the Lord." God gave Isaiah a vision of something wonderful when He called him to be a prophet. If only we could have a vision like that. How different things could be!

Perhaps the first Christian rock musical was "Tell It Like It Is." I remember it so well because my daughter had a solo in it and I listened to her practicing it over and over. The song she was singing was a song about how different people saw God. She had one verse and several other young people had a verse.

The first verse of the song went something like this: 

"When I see God He has a long white beard, and He brings me gifts at the end of the year. But the big one comes in the by and by from the Santa Claus up in the sky."
Another verse went like this:
"When I see God He is a vending machine. I drop in a coin and He makes the scene. Touch the right button and what you've got is instant first aid…on the spot."
Another young person sang:
"I think of God as a great computer…feed Him the facts, He's the instant Tutor. He's gotta be right sure it's plain to see, since the stars haven't fallen into the sea."
And the verse my daughter learned was this…

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"I think of God like in a museum…kept under glass where I can go see Him. It's such a comfort to see Him there…near me here and not off somewhere."

Any of those sound familiar? 

There isn't a subject that can raise an argument quicker than a discussion of what God is like. Everyone seems to feel his kind of God is just as good as anyone else's, since no one has seen God. At least that is the rationale for some. Some have just never gotten past the God of their childhood…the "fyshudeye" God. In fact I heard one woman testify that she was completely grown before she understood what "fyshudeye" meant. You know…"Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. "Fyshudeye" before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take."

The truth is, God has allowed us to see and understand Him. His Word, His Son have given us a picture of the God Who created the universe. I contend that what we need today is a renewed vision, a fresh picture of God and a fresh encounter with Him. Some of us are still running on our childhood vision of God. We have not moved beyond that because we have not had any new, fresh encounters with God since we were saved in childhood. I contend that we all need to have our vision of God renewed once in a while. Once in a while we just need to appear before God and admit we haven't been close to Him for a while, so our vision is blurred and our behavior has been affected.

Not only do individuals need a fresh vision of God, so do churches. When we get to the point where we think we know better how to run our lives and His church, we need a fresh vision of God. We have got to come back to the point that we are all clamoring with our shouts of "I want this or I want that"…and ask afresh and anew, "What does God want?" But, we won't come to that point without a fresh vision of God.

Before you can know God's vision for your life or the church, you have to renew your vision of God. There can be no vision from God until there is a vision of God.

 

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