Mankind doesn’t mind having a god of some kind, as long as that god can be made into the image that mankind prefers. Men, in general, will accept a certain type of god that meets their requirements, which normally means that he/she/it doesn’t require too much of them.
Yet God—the real God—is not a product of man’s fevered imagination. “It is always shocking to meet life where we thought we were alone,” C. S. Lewis wrote in his book Miracles. “‘Look out!’ we cry, ‘it’s alive.’ And therefore this is the very point at which so many draw back—I would have done so myself if I could—and proceed no further with Christianity.”
Lewis then goes through a litany of the kinds of “gods” people don’t mind: “An ‘impersonal God’—well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth, and goodness, inside our own heads—better still. A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap—best of all.”
None of those imaginary gods are going to cause discomfort in life; they will bow to our every wish. Yet the God of the Bible is quite different, and that is a scary prospect.
But God Himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband—that is quite another matter.
There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (“Man’s search for God!”) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us?
What? You mean we can’t dictate to Him? We are the ones who must give an account for our decisions, our deceptions, our (and this word is so very hard to say) sins? No, that’s not right, modern man responds. If there really is a God, we should be judging Him, not the other way around.
Lewis perceived this attitude in his day and took it head on in one of his essays, “God in the Dock.” What’s dismally fascinating is that the attitude he recognized in 1940s Britain is even more prevalent now. His words are not confined to his own decades but ring true today:
The ancient man approached God (or even the gods) as the accused person approaches his judge. For the modern man the roles are reversed. He is the judge: God is in the dock.
He is quite a kindly judge: if God should have a reasonable defence for being the god who permits war, poverty, and disease, he is ready to listen to it. The trial may even end in God’s acquittal. But the important thing is that Man is on the Bench and God in the Dock.
What arrogance the human race displays. It has been the same through the ages. Will we ever learn the basic truths of Scripture on this point? We need always to keep this in mind with respect to how we should understand the comparison between God and man:
A voice says, “Cry out!”
And I asked, “What should I cry out?”
“All flesh is like grass,
and all its glory like the flowers of the field.
The grass withers,Isaiah 40:6-8
the flowers fall
when the breath of the Lord blows on them;
indeed, the people are grass.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God stands forever.”
It’s time, as the book of James tells us, to remember that “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James continues with this admonition:
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn, and weep. Turn your laughter to mourning, and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.James 4:7-10
We must lay aside our conceptions of the God we want Him to be and see Him for who He really is. When we do that, we also see ourselves for who we really are, and all reason for pride dissipates in that reality.