“We must remember Paul’s startling claim that none of us without the intervention and aid of the Holy Spirit ever seek the real God of the Bible (Romans 3:10-12). We create for ourselves a customized deity, as Paul did. Certainly, a God you create can sometimes be a comfort. . . . But such a God cannot challenge you when you need to be challenged and can never change you.”- Timothy Keller
Timothy Keller continues Chapter 7 of Hope in Times of Fear with the fifth and final case study.
Case Study #5: Paul meets Jesus. Before taking a look at Paul’s case study, Pastor Keller issues a word of warning. He notes that Paul’s dramatic conversion story includes a visible light and audible voice from heaven. In addition, God literally knocked Paul to the ground. Therefore, some people reason, God must come into my life like that. Thankfully, Pastor Keller muses, we have the rest of the book of Acts.
Certainly, most case studies of conversion reported by Luke lacked drama of any sort. But, even though the how of conversion differed in each case, the what remained the same. Change occured from the inside out.
However, Paul believed God favored disciplined people like himself. Because he followed all the rules and regulations to the letter. And, Pastor Keller adds, we tend to think like Paul:
“Paul, like the rest of us, believed in a God who supported the person he already was and wanted to be, and who despised all the people he despised. . . . Our beliefs or nonbeliefs about God are driven as much (or more) by our personal wants and needs than by reason.”
Instead, only a God who’s not a product of our wishful thinking possesses the ability to profoundly reprogram our self-understanding. To make us something new in the process.
Finally, we must realize we’re dealing with a God who’s not the way we desire Him to be. Rather, He is the way He is. We need a God who tellus us things we don’t want to be true. Otherwise, we’ll never be transformed when He tells us things too good to be true.
Today’s question: What customized deity do you create for yourself? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “An intimate union – Jesus Christ”