A group of psychologists asked 551 American Christians what they think God looks like. The test subjects were shown hundreds of randomly varying pairs of faces and asked which of the two looked more like "the face of God."
The composite shows a God who is white, young, and clean-cut.
Obviously, no one on this side of heaven can know what God really looks like. For instance, Revelation 4 describes him in symbolic language that expresses his holiness and awesome power but does not picture him in anthropomorphic terms. Our finite minds cannot comprehend his infinitude.
The interesting part of the study, however, was the degree to which people tended to believe in a God who looks like them. Caucasians imagined a white God, while African Americans pictured a black God. Younger people saw a younger God, while attractive people imagined a more attractive God.
As Voltaire noted, "In the beginning God created man in His own image, and man has been trying to repay the favor ever since."
"I am your servant"
Reading Psalm 143 this week, I was struck by a thought I'd never considered before.
David prayed, "For your name's sake, O Lord, preserve my life! In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!" (v. 11). David was so certain God would answer his prayer that he then testified, "In your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies, and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul . . ." (v. 12a).
Now comes the new thought.
David ended his prayer with the words, "for I am your servant" (v. 12b). "Servant" translates the Hebrew ebed, meaning someone who is subordinate to a master or owner. Why would David think that the Lord was more likely to answer his prayer for protection if he was the ebed of God?
For this reason, I realized: a master is responsible for his or her servant. A good master provides security and provision, supplying the needs of the servant. So long as David remained the ebed of God, he could count on the protection of God.
If, however, he became his own master and made God his servant, he was on his own. He would fight his enemies with human strength. He could not count on the King to protect someone who was rebelling against his authority.
As I considered this fact, I realized that it encapsulates the tragic mistake our secular culture is making.
C. S. Lewis: "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 [on trial]. He is quite a kindly judge: if God should have a reasonable defense 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."
One of Satan's greatest victories
What happens when we believe the lie that we are God and God is our subject?
One: We forfeit the provision and protection our Master wishes to give his servants.
More than a century has lapsed since America last experienced a great spiritual awakening. It has been so long that we don't know what we are missing. We don't know what it would be like to be a nation truly blessed by God (Psalm 33:12). We don't realize all that he could and would do for a people committed to him as their Savior and King.
If you're not experiencing the power of God in your life (Zechariah 4:6), the abundance of God for your needs (Philippians 4:13), and the joy of God in your soul (Nehemiah 8:10), ask yourself whether you are serving God or you are expecting him to serve you.
In other words, if you don't feel close to God, guess who moved.
Two: We lose the fear of divine judgment in this life and the next.
One of Satan's greatest victories in our culture is persuading us that the love of God precludes the judgment of God. We would never believe this of a parent or an employer, but many believe it's true of God.
To even suggest that the Lord might punish us for unbiblical morality is to be branded intolerant and puritanical. To even suggest that those who reject Jesus will spend eternity separated from him in hell is to be ridiculed for fanatical bigotry.
But a holy Master must punish the sins of his subjects, whether they recognize his authority or not. A criminal who no longer believes there is a judicial system is no less subject to it.
Our default position
Because you and I are fallen people, our default position is to be our own master, the king of our own kingdom. Every single day, we must make the conscious decision to dethrone ourselves and enthrone Jesus.
If you've not put him on the throne of your life yet today, you're on that throne. And you're missing his blessing while risking his judgment. Consider the fact that you're reading this Daily Article to be God's invitation to make him your King and yourself his servant.
And know that your Father always gives his best to those who leave the choice with him.