Saturday, May 26 , 2018, 9:22 am | Fair 64º


D.C. Collier: Our Image of God Plays a Key Role in Our Destiny

Last week I introduced you to my friend, Rocco, who I met in my initial mentoring encounter at the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission a decade ago. We left off with the rather weighty proposition that “by a secret law of the soul, we tend to form our image of god as a ‘mashup’ of all the authority figures we have encountered in our lives.”

Why is that so important? Because, as it turns out, we can rise no higher as individuals than our image of God. In the Old Testament, the Psalmist contrasted Israel’s God with the idols of the surrounding nations and came to a frightening conclusion:

Our God is in heaven
doing whatever He wants to do.
Their gods are metal and wood,
handmade in a basement shop:
Carved mouths that can’t talk,
painted eyes that can’t see,
Tin ears that can’t hear,
molded noses that can’t smell,
Hands that can’t grasp, feet that can’t walk or run,
throats that never utter a sound.
Those who make them have become just like them,
have become just like the gods they trust.1

An idol is anything I believe about God that isn’t correct and therefore distorts His true character. The scary part is that if we insist on holding on to such beliefs, we will eventually “become just like them.”

Rocco was desperate to find a God he could trust and not be forced to accept the twisted version that was being forced upon him by his abysmal circumstances. He wondered, could the evolutionists be right that he “came from nothing and he is going nowhere,” or should he buy into the biblical view that he is “the special creation of a good and all-powerful God?”

The Stakes Are High Here, Folks

One of the most important factors influencing a man’s (or woman’s) potential for a successful recovery from addiction is directly related to his view of God. To find out, just ask him, “What does the god you have in your head look like?”

I’m not talking about the “Sunday school” version he might cook up in reply to a “Sunday school” question. I’m talking about his inner view of God that has been “hammered into him” over the years through personal experience, both good and bad.

Is his “god” smiling, mad, kind, mean, distant, absent, distracted, etc.? Or is “he” not a “he” at all? Perhaps his god is an “it,” a thing, a force, an abstract principle. Or perhaps he sees no god at all — a complete blank, often accompanied by the rhetorical question, “How could there be a good god when there is so much evil in the world?”

For Rocco, that “evil in the world” was a terrifying, unrelenting daily reality that could have easily taken his life. Even though he had a big body, the little child still inside of Rocco continued to wonder, “who’s in charge of this whole thing, and why doesn’t he do something about it?”

And with that question, we both found ourselves on the doorstep of one of history’s most perplexing philosophic dilemmas, one that academics, scientists, and theologians have wrestled with for thousands of years.

Those who argue against the existence of God often put the proposition this way, “If God is good, and infinitely powerful, why does evil continue to exist? It seems to leave us with only three possibilities: God is too weak to overcome evil; or, God is not good and could care less about evil; or, God simply doesn’t exist. Hmmm.

What Are We Missing?

Could we be missing something here? Are we permanently boxed in by the three-possibility paradox listed above? Is the whole “thing” between us and God all about raw power? Trouble is, that would put us at a severe disadvantage in view of God’s unlimited powers alone.

Here are some out-of-the-box hints from God’s word that usher us into a host of other, far more enticing possibilities:

In the Bible, God assures us that we are not powerless “flotsam set loose like a bobbing cork on a boiling sea.” We have been created for a divine purpose and are encouraged to tap into the most potent force ever invested in a created being — to exercise our personal free will and choose for or against our Creator’s plans for us.

We are much more in charge of our destiny than we ever imagined. In our power to choose and, specifically, in our power to choose what to believe about ourselves, we act in a way most like God. As he breathed His very life into that first handful of dust in Genesis, He endowed this highest and most noble of creatures with a fearful, terrible power — the ability to forge his own destiny.

Every child of Adam and Eve is the product of his or her own decisions, the most momentous of which is, who will be my god? Do I choose to live my life conscious of His presence, or try to live it out as though He does not exist?

The consequences are incalculable, as Rocco sensed instinctively. To be continued.

D.C. Collier is a Bible teacher, discipleship mentor and writer focused on Christian apologetics. A mechanical engineer and Internet entrepreneur, he is the author of My Origin, My Destiny, a book focused on Christianity’s basic “value proposition.” Click here for more information. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

1. Psalm 115:3-8 The Message (MSG)

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