Not too long ago, I had a dream about Jesus. As is often the case with my dreams, the exact details are fuzzy but I vividly remember that He was hanging out with a small group of people which included me. Jesus fit right in—He looked like us and talked like we did. We were all having a good time. When I later told my wife about this I said, “I know it was a dream because Jesus thought just like we did about everything.”
There’s a god who is worshipped by lots of people that we’ll call Consumer God. CG thinks just like we do, he wants the same things for us that we want for ourselves. His primary goal is our happiness—that our bank accounts are full, our health is always superb, and life is basically one unending stream of pleasantries.
CG does not believe that we should suffer or sacrifice for the good of others (as Jesus did). Neither does he think that we should be overly concerned about hungry people or those who don’t know Jesus. If we want to show up at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving that’s fine but anything more will take the focus off ourselves and above all else, CG exists to make sure we have everything we desire. After all, that’s what it’s all about—isn’t it?
Although he comes at it from a different angle and with a different vocabulary, David Brooks describes in The Road to Character what happens after we’ve followed CG for a while:
. . . years pass and the deepest parts of you go unexplored and unstructured. You lack a moral vocabulary. It is easy to slip into a self-satisfied moral mediocrity. You grade yourself on a forgiving curve. You figure as long as you are not obviously hurting anybody and people seem to like you, you must be O.K. But you live with an unconscious boredom, separated from the deepest meaning of life and the highest moral joys.
It is our Father’s desire to mold and shape us into His image (Ephesians 5:1-2). Yet we often counter by trying to shape and mold God into our image. That’s the essence o what’s going on when we deceive ourselves into thinking that God is just like us. The truth is—He’s not. He’s radically unlike us. And in our better moments we not only recognize that but we are heartily glad that it is this way. Addiction centers, social unrest and violence, human trafficking, abortions clinic, abused children—all bear witness to our deep woundedness and inability to live apart from God. Brooks is right in his observation that we are “separated from the deepest meaning of life and the highest moral joys.”
The God we need is not one created by our hands or fashioned in our hearts. We need the God revealed in Scripture. The One who loves us enough to discipline us, disciple us, and die for us.
Don’t settle for anything less.