The Image of God—A.W. Tozer

Read carefully. A reading from “Why We Must Think Rightly About God,” from The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer:

“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 [group] 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.

For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence is often more eloquent than her speech. She can never escape the self-disclosure of her witness concerning God.

Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, “What comes into your mind when you think about God?” we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man. Were we able to know exactly what our most influential religious leaders think of God today, we might be able with some precision to foretell where the Church will stand tomorrow…

That our ideas of God correspond as nearly as possible to the true being of God is of immense importance to us. Compared with our actual thoughts about Him, our creedal statements are of little consequence. Our real idea of God may lie buried under the rubbish of conventional religious notions and may require an intelligent and vigorous search before it is finally unearthed and exposed for what it is. Only after an ordeal of painful self-probing are we likely to discover what we actually believe about God.” —A.W. Tozer

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Sermon-LiveGenerous—Thankful and Obedient

This is a sermon I preached on October 28th, 2012, at CrossPoint EightTen during the LiveGenerous series. I was asked to preach specifically on tithing and Luke 17:1-21.

First and foremost (again): There is so much more going on in this amazing passage than I am able to get into here, not to mention the awesomely confusing verses that immediately follow. I was asked to speak on tithing. Is this passage about tithing? Not really. But it does deal with thankfulness and obedience in a sense, and since the series was on tithing, I wanted to make the connection that we give tithe to our local church out of thankfulness and obedience for God’s faithfulness to us, and so that money does not become our god.

Also, in the beginning of the sermon I way oversell the self-deprecating, disappointed church-goer bit about the sermon being on tithing. I did this out of iniquity in me regarding this subject and myself. Made aware of this after, these are things the Lord and I are working on. Also, the sermon is not nearly as much about about tithing as it is our reaction to God’s activity.

Amendment: About 20 minutes in I say that CrossPoint is able to give away millions of dollars a year to help people in need. This is not true, I did not take a close enough look at the budget, but they do help people in all the ways mentioned. I apologize for the mistake.

October 28, 2012 from CrossPoint EightTen on Vimeo.

Destroy Evil with Good

“Generations will rise and fall; men will continue to worship the god of revenge and bow before the altar of retaliation; but ever and again this noble lesson of Calvary will be a nagging reminder that only goodness can drive out evil and only love can conquer hate.”

-Martin Luther King Jr.

I love King’s language that the lesson of the cross is a “nagging reminder” that the hate, gossip, prejudice, and injustice we inherently seek to imbue life with is simply incompatible with the ruling order of love. The irony, for most of us who desire a better, peaceful world order, is that peace is often sought through violence. Peace is sought through control. Peace is sought through superiority. This happens on an international, national, state, communal, and individual level; a political, religious, socio-economic, and racial level. The problem is this: Violence establishes only more violence. Control is fleeting, and fuels bitterness. Superiority is hybris, and the father of enmity.

Instead, seek peace through humility. Peace through meekness. Peace through friendship. Peace through inclusion. Peace through acts of mercy, compassion, and justice. Seek peace through love.

Abraham Lincoln once responded to a woman shocked that he could speak kindly of the south with, “Madam, do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” This, as I understand it, is the crux of not only Christian love, but love that binds all things together toward reconciliation. It is through the action of love that all things are made new. Hate is of no good to anyone except those that derive pleasure in their own destruction.

In Romans 12:20, Paul exhorts the church at Rome, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Evil is best destroyed by becoming good. Darkness is best obliterated by becoming light. Do we not destroy our enemies when we make them our friends? Not because we seek to destroy the person, but because we seek to destroy the aversion between us. The person is no longer our enemy, but friend. The enemy is destroyed, the friend has come. The old is gone, the new has come. Evil is overcome when we seek what is right and good; when we seek justice; when we seek to deliver our enemies from injustice and into a welcoming community; when we forgive even the gravest offenses; when we live life with the earth-shattering worldview of a committed, faithful love.

If love is the simplest answer to the world’s problems, it is also the most complex. Because in our minds to love is to qualify. We must qualify and set limitations on our love so as to not allow ourselves to be dominated. But this is not the message of the cross, or the message of a savior who allowed himself to be dominated for the sake of love. It is the event of the cross that ought to be meditated on as the true symbol of love, and one that we ought to carry on in our new lives, because according to Jesus, and the Father God who sent him, this is precisely that which will destroy evil.