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What Attracts Us Away From God? | The Eclipse of God in American Culture #3

No one knows what God looks like, but many people prefer to follow a god they can accept. What happens when we reimagine God to be safer or more manageable? Pastor Lutzer warns against treating God trivially. If we worship a god who never disagrees with us, we are turning away from the only worthy One. 

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Transcript: Welcome to “5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer.” I’m so glad that you joined me again today as we continue this very critical series, entitled, “The Eclipse of God in American Culture.” If you were with us last time you know that I spoke about Nietzsche, who proclaimed the death of God and was willing to stare into the abyss. And, by the way, he said that when you stare into the abyss, it stares back at you. He was willing to look at a world without God. America’s not quite there yet. So what we have done is we have constructed idols, idols of our culture.

Do you remember Art Linkletter? Now, he was a man who became famous because he interviewed children. And when you interview children, they say sometimes some of the strangest, most beautiful, unexpected things. Linkletter said that he was walking through what I guess was a classroom and there was a boy scrawling wildly on a sheet of paper. Linkletter said to him, “What are you drawing?” The boy said, “I’m drawing a picture of God.” Linkletter said, “Nobody knows what God looks like.” And the boy said, “Well, they will when I’m finished.” So what does God look like?

The simple fact is that when we turn away from the living and the true God we begin to turn to idols. We don’t go the route of Nietzsche, as a nation, staring into the abyss. We say we have “our god” but our god happens to be a god of idols. Donald McCullough wrote a book, entitled, “The Trivialization of God.” And he writes, “Whether in the partial light of historical perspective or in the perfect light of eternity, it may be revealed that the worst sin of the church is the trivialization of God.” He continues, “We prefer the illusion of a safer deity and so we have pared God down to more manageable proportions.” The trivialization of God, that’s what often happens in evangelical churches and we’re going to be talking about that in some future episodes.

For now, I want us to talk about idolatry. What is the attraction of idolatry? Why do we like to substitute the true God for an idol? And, by the way, Ezekiel talks about the idols of the heart. Let’s go back and consider, you know, the golden calf. Why did Israel have the golden calf? First of all, they were very impatient. Moses was on the top of the mountain and was not coming down and they wanted an immediate response from God. Furthermore they wanted a god that they could control, a god that they could take into battle with them. And finally they wanted a god who was totally okay with their immorality, so that they could have their orgies and “god” was approving of it. That’s the nature of idolatry. And we’re living in a day and age when there are plenty of idols.

We’re going to pick this up and talk about it next time. I’m going to give you two very important idols of the culture. But at the same time this is why we’re living in a day in which people pick their own idol. It’s something like a smorgasbord. You know, you go through and you take whatever you like, a little pinch of this religion. A little bit of that. A little bit of that over there. And if you, when you go through the line, take something different than I took, that’s all okay because we are all choosing our own gods.

Well, next time we’re going to be talking about two idols of the culture. But I want to leave you with a passage of scripture that emphasizes why should the nations say “Where is their God?” David is saying “Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases. But their idols of silver and gold (and I might say the idols of the heart and the mind), they have mouths, but they do not speak; eyes, but they do not see. They have ears, but they do not hear; noses but they don’t smell.” And then it goes on to say — “Those who make them become like them.” If you are worshiping a god who never disagrees with you, who is just a projection of your imagination based on your desires, you most assuredly are worshipping an idol. As we continue this series of messages it is so important for you to remember to subscribe, follow, share this with your friends, because we’re going to be discussing issues that have to do with the Old Testament, why it is that we don’t punish people like they did in Old Testament times, the unity of God between the Testaments, all of those are still in the future.

Meanwhile, as for today, let me remind you of the passage of scripture that I just read where David says, “Our God is in the heavens. He has done all that he pleases.” And that God, my friend, is not an idol. Let us worship only Him. Thanks for joining us and, of course, as for today you just go with God.

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