It was A.W. Tozer who wrote (in The Knowledge of the Holy), “what comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” That is a broad statement, a grand one, but one that merits some thought, for as Tozer says, “the history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God.” If no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God, the same must true of individuals. We can never rise above our idea of God.
Tozer says, “We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. …Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence is often more eloquent than her speech. She can never escape the self-disclosure of her witness concerning God.” I think he is right. Once we have decided who God is, we chase after that image. The application becomes obvious: It is critically important that we gain an accurate understand of who God is through the Bible, God’s own self-disclosure. Otherwise, we will inevitably move towards a fabricated and false image of him. We will put aside the real thing and chase after a mere shadow.
Here are words that have long gripped me and are worthy of lengthy reflection: “Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, ‘What comes into your mind when you think about God?’ we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man. Were we able to know exactly what our most influential religious leaders think of God today, we might be able with some precision to foretell where the church will stand tomorrow.” This is a sobering thought and not only for those who pastor megachurches and enjoy a national platform. If Tozer is right, then what he says applies to the smallest local church, it applies to the family and wherever else there is spiritual leadership. What comes into the pastor’s mind will predict where his church stands tomorrow. What comes into dad’s mind will predict where his family stands tomorrow.