Andy Stanley is currently sharing a series in his church geared towards people who may have walked away from God.
In the message entitled “Gods of the No Testament”, Andy explores several false conceptions of God, which we as the church are often guilty of promoting.
These are versions of God we have been told exist, but in fact do not. These are gods we SHOULD walk away from. For those who have lost faith over these things, there might be reason to reconsider. These versions of God are not God!
Here are the groupings Andy uses. I will insert some of my own thoughts in each one.
Bodyguard God– The god protects from all harm. In this view, God doesn’t allow bad things to happen to good people. This doesn’t hold up to our experience or even that of Jesus. The author of our faith had some pretty bad things happen to him. Christianity started with horrible things happening to a very good person. Many have walked away over personal pain or the suffering of the world when God is viewed through this lens.
On Demand God – This view of God gives you whatever you want, whenever you need it. This is a God who responds to fair and selfless requests the way we would. We’ve all experienced times we hoped for something and it did not happen (often a good thing!) Who told us that God always responds the way you expect and we can conjure him up like a genie to grant our wishes? The Bible does not tell us this, but rather attempts to transform cultures where Gods were this fickle.
Boyfriend/Girlfriend God – This God is always there enabling us to always “feel” the presence of God. Mother Teresa confessed she had long periods of not “feeling God”. Who told you should always feel God and that is evidence of his Presence? The truth is you are least aware of things which are the most present. This relegates God’s presence to a feeling or an experience rather than a fact and source of stability.
Guilt god – This is the one I grew up with! He controls through guilt and fear. God loves you but does not really like you. We want to run from this environment but the effects of it linger. The true God is on our side and wants to see us succeed. Guilt is gone through Christ.
Anti-Science God – This God makes you choose between undeniable science and unreliable religion. This god is at war with science, not the author of it. When kids get sick do you take them to the doctor or the church? You don’t have to choose one of the other.
Gap God – Things you don’t understand must be God . He becomes the explanation for what we cannot explain. This is the ”don’t question, just believe God’. Unexplainable is often better evidence for our ignorance, rather than the existence of God.
All of these are gods which we may have been taught growing up. They are not the true picture of God. Andy appeals to people who may have left the faith over these perceptions of God, to considering returning without having to re-embrace these false forms of God. Even for those who have not walked away, this series helps us wrestle with some of the difficulties in our faith. God welcomes us to question in our pursuit of Him!
He says it way better than I could. Go and listen to it yourself or catch the whole series HERE.
and HERE is a link to this specific message in the series.
What are some other false “gods” you know which may have caused people to leave the church over?
Photo by Dino Reichmuth