March 14, 2020
Which Is Most Important - Our View of God or His View of Us?
In his article, titled "Tozer vs. Lewis: What's the Most Important Thing About Us?", Justin Taylor let's the two men speak for themselves. In his book, Knowledge of the Holy, Tozer writes: "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.
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."
And in his book, The Weight of Glory, Lewis writes this: "I read in a periodical the other day that the fundamental thing is how we think of God. By God Himself, it is not! How God thinks of us is not only more important, but infinitely more important. Indeed, how we think of Him is of no importance except in so far as it is related to how He thinks of us.
It is written that we shall “stand before” Him, shall appear, shall be inspected. The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us who really chooses, shall actually survive that examination, shall find approval, shall please God. To please God . . . to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness . . . to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son—it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is."
Far be it from me to suppose that my opinion can compare to the thoughts of these godly men! And it would be easy to walk the middle of the road and say that I agree with both of them -- which I do. But I find this juxtaposition fascinating and must work it out in my mind to its end conclusion for me.
Although I am open to more persuasion, here is where I land on comparing the two ... Lewis appears to make the Judgment Seat of God the foundation of His argument. By that, I mean that He supposes, in that dynamic moment of our lives, we will care about nothing else except that we "survive that examination" and experience the incredible and unimaginable approval and delight of God.
He acknowledges Salvation and the work of the Cross as the measure by which we are judged. But I'm left to wonder if He recognizes that Jesus also came to establish His Father's Kingdom on the earth. So won't God's measure of approval also depend on how we lived our lives; what we did as an ambassador of His Kingdom; whether we walked in our power and authority and helped destroy the works of the devil and his kingdom?
What about Tozer's assertion that it doesn't really matter about what a man might say or do, but what he conceives God to be like in the deepest part of his heart? Our heart is where Jesus desires to be enthroned, and the condition of our heart will determine if we live our lives pleasing to God. It is out of our heart that we let our light shine before others, so that they may see our good works and give glory to our Father who is in Heaven (Matthew 5:16). And the Bible says if our hearts are pure, then we shall see God (Matthew 5:8). But what if your heart isn't pure? Can you still be Saved and have a portion of your heart unpure? I believe so! That is why forgiveness is such an important tenet of our faith. And I also believe that if any part of our heart is struggling, it definitely affects our vision of God.
In the end, both arguments are credible. And that's because they point to a relationship -- there is a connection; an interdependence between us and our Father in Heaven. If our heart is blinded, then we will be unable to see Him, and how we view Him will be determined by our circumstances and what happens to us in the world. If we take the eyes of our heart off Him and define Him by who the world says He is, that will color how we represent Him to the world. Ultimately, our choices then become paramount in how He sees us. There is no separating our view of God from His view of us. One affects the other, and it is the design of our Creator that we acknowledge Him, seek Him, and know Him -- not because He needs us to! But because we choose to!
He made a free will choice to create us in His image. So, when He looks upon us, I would expect that He anticipates seeing a reflection of Himself. That would have been so if Adam and Eve had not rebelled and been banished from the Garden and their relationship with God was terminated. So until Jesus comes into your life to re-establish that relationship with your Creator and reconnect you to Heaven, you look in the mirror and don't know who you are. Without Jesus, we never see the Father in us.
That leaves me with asking these questions .... If we don't know God and can't see Him, does that negate His love for us? My answer is "no".. His invitation for relationship is always there. So, His view of us (out of His boundless love) will be the most important thing in our life. In this case, C.S. Lewis is correct.
The next question is this .... If we do know the Lord, and are seeking more of Him, is it important that we know His true character and nature? Will that help us to make wise free will choices that please Him? If we rightly view the Father and the Son, won't that guide us individually and corporately [as the Church]? I believe that we can discern a person's opinion of God by their actions; what they think is pleasing to Him. The same thing can be said about a Church. And what they do in the Name of Jesus either glorifies Him or misrepresents Him -- all depending on how they view Him. In that case, Tozer is right.
In the end, neither Tozer nor Lewis will be the decider of what I think about God or what He thinks about me. I will rely on the revelations of the Holy Spirit, through the logos and rhema Word, and the dreams, visions, prophecies, and narratives He brings me. And one day I will stand before Him at that Judgment Seat and it will be a glorious day! Of that, I have no doubt!
Ephesians 4:24 Now it’s time to be made new by every revelation that’s been given to you. And to be transformed as you embrace the glorious Christ-within as your new life and live in union with him! For God has re-created you all over again in His perfect righteousness, and you now belong to Him in the realm of true holiness.