"What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God." - AW Tozer
The first time I ever read the book "Knowledge of the Holy" by AW Tozer, it struck me that my idea of God was far less than what He actually is. I had inadvertently placed limits on God and what He could do in my life just because of the way I thought about Him. There were areas of my life that I had accepted defeat and failure because I didn't believe that God could change them.
Of course this means that the God I was serving was not the God of the bible. The God of the bible is all powerful and can accomplish all things. There is no part of me that He cannot change. The bible tells me that He is the potter and I am the clay. So, I had created a God in my mind that was not the God of the bible and I was serving Him. I realized that I had become an "Idol Worshiper".
When we read about idol worship in the bible, most of us probably get an image in our heads of some native tribe in a third world country dancing around a stone statue with a bonfire burning in the background. We don't immediately check ourselves to see if we have become idol worshipers ourselves because we aren't out carving trees and stones into gods. Yet the way we think about our God could cause us to mentally carve out an idol for us to worship. Let's look at a couple of the "mental" idols that we carve.
1. The Genie/Santa God
When we focus on what God can do for us, we turn Him into our own personal magic genie. We only cry out to Him when we have needs in our life. Rarely if ever would we ask God what He wants us to do. It's all about us and our problems and our desires and we want God to take care of it all. This is a God that serves us instead of us serving Him.
2. The Chained God
When we don't believe that God can do all the things that the bible says He can do, we place limits/chains on Him. Then we make excuses and try to explain why God can't or won't do certain things. "God only helps those who help themselves" we say to ourselves and so we work harder and harder to earn our salvation. This is a God that is weak and un-involved in our day to day lives.
These are just two examples of how we often create idols in our minds that we worship. the only way to keep from mentally carving out these idols is to read the bible and believe what it says about God. When we allow the word of God to define who God is for us then we can rest assured that we are worshiping the real God of the bible.
Do you have any other examples of mental idols that we create? Feel free to comment or write me and let me know.
Phillip Reed is the Associate Pastor of Faith Chapel Ministries. His passion is to reconcile the lost to their Heavenly Father.