Why would we want to settle for God’s stuff, when we are given God?
By Will Helms
I hope we’re on the same page here. We shouldn’t choose a huge house instead of God, dedicate 100% of our time to pursuing money, all that stuff. Makes sense.
What if I said that the idols most young Christians cling to are things that the Bible commands us to love? What if I said most young Christians idolize things that are described as “good”, “pleasant”, or even “God-breathed”.
If you know me, you know I love the Reformation, and I like the five Solas — if viewed correctly — even if Luther himself would have likely wholeheartedly agreed with just 2-3 of them (The Solas were created long after Luther’s death.)
It is my personal belief that many of the shortcomings in the Protestant Church come from an overemphasis of the Solas. One in particular that divides Eastern and Western Christians is Sola Scriptura.
Sola Scriptura holds that the Christian Scriptures are the sole source of God’s revelation. (This was a fight back against the belief that only priests and other clergy could understand God). Ultimately, the result, in part, has been that Western Christians reject anything with the word “creed” or “tradition” in it. (I think these are helpful when viewed correctly, but that’s not the point I’d like to articulate.)
My concern is that we don’t even know what the Word of God is. The Word of God is not just the Bible.
Wait, what? Before you lock me up for heresy, let me rephrase.
The whole Word of God cannot be contained in the Bible.
John 1 is one of the most beautifully written pieces of literature ever, and in it, John explains that Jesus is the Word of God. Over the years, I believe many Christians, myself included, have elevated the written Word of God (the Bible) above the incarnate Word of God (Jesus Christ).
We often view the Bible as equal or even greater to God. As if he could be contained in any book. The reason we can believe and trust in the inerrancy of the Bible is because we can believe and trust in the inerrant Creator of the Bible.
It would be no less ridiculous for us to state that The Chronicles of Narnia are somehow greater or equal to C.S. Lewis. The whole of Lewis is not contained in Narnia, no matter how great that series may be. Do we believe that the Mona Lisa is somehow superior to da Vinci?
Yet, we do the same to God. The Bible cannot save, but God uses the Bible to save. We must read the Bible, for through it, we understand God, but that does not mean the book knows more than its author.
Similarly, community cannot save, but God can use community to save. I’m starting to see that if I am not careful community can and will become an idol in my life. However, community is not an end, but a means to an end — that is, Christ.
Proximity (that is, fellowship without Jesus) is no more community than wearing a jersey makes me a football player.
Or as Bonhoeffer puts it, “Christianity means community through jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ … We belong to one another only through and in Jesus Christ” (Life Together, 23).
When we elevate our community (or a ministry, or friendships, or a dating/marriage relationship) above the One that calls us to those things, we have missed the point. We have erred in our belief.
Our community should direct us to Christ, but our community should not take the place of Christ. After all, he is the reason for community and the reason we can have community.
The Bible and community with other believers are absolutely necessary for growth, because it is through these that God reveals Himself. But God is not the sum total of His creations.
As Isaiah so aptly puts it, “Thus says the LORD, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest “For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD. “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” (Isaiah, 66:1-2, NASB).
If Heaven cannot contain His glory, neither can His book or His people.
*check out more of Will’s stuff at his personal blog – https://whelms21.wordpress.com/
this article in its entirety can be found here