Does the reality of the existence of God and his self-disclosure as found in his Word impact how we live our lives day-to-day? It should, but I am becoming convinced that for many people it does not. Many profess faith, and yet their lives bear no mark that it impacts their lives. Many profess to believe the Bible is God’s Word, and yet they don’t use it to inform their decision-making.
In his books on culture and Christianity, David Wells illuminates this concept that though many profess to believe in God, the god they believe in has no weight in their lives. In other words, God does not impact how they think, choose, act or live. Wells writes:
There is, for many people, no God “above” them who is relevant to their daily preoccupations. They intend no new radicalism and would be quite shocked to know how far out they really are. They are simply uninterested in a God who is other than themselves, who inhabits a realm that cannot be accessed by intuition. These people are deeply preoccupied with their own selves, and often with not much else.
What Wells is getting at is this: most people build a false image of who God is based on their own perceptions and intuitions. They fashion for themselves a false god who fits their wants and their perceived needs, but man does not get to determine who God is. God has revealed himself to us through his Word and here we see the true battleground. This summer I have seen this battle in many places: the internet, friends, youth at camp, and the culture at large. We so often come to the Bible with an agenda and that agenda is the Bible has to mean what I want it to mean. If I run into something I don’t like, all I have to do is explain it away. In the process, we place ourselves as the authority over the text. We place ourselves above God. This type of thinking must stop.
God is God and we are not. His Word is perfect and it is not lacking in anything. We need to understand this. The Bible is the most relevant thing in this world. We do not need to make it relevant as if we could improve on the very words of God. We do not need to update it to fit our culture. No, we need to submit to it. Culture needs to conform to Scripture not vice versa. We need to get to a point where we are not just reading Scripture, though reading Scripture is important, we need to submit to it. To obey it. The Bible should be the reason for every decision we make. It should be the reason for how we conduct ourselves in public, private, and especially in the Church. Where else would we go for guidance? Scripture needs to be the lens through which we view everything. That is the purpose of reading the Bible and studying it—renewing our mind that we might live sacrificial lives (Romans 12:1-2).
What’s the solution to the seeming weightlessness of God and his Word in our culture? Wells puts it well, “God begins to have weight in our lives only when we begin to hear his summons from outside ourselves. He summons us to stand before him, to hear his Word, to know him as he is in his holy-love. When we begin to do so, reality enters our soul.” We must approach God on his terms and not on ours. Once we realize that God is God and that he is outside of us, then and only then, will we respond properly to him and his Word—with submission, faith, and worship. God’s Word has more weight in this universe than we comprehend, and we would do well to recognize this reality and respond accordingly. We must not go to God and his Word to conform it to what we desire; rather, as we approach God we must conform to him and His Word.