Heroes and cowards both feel the same types of fear. The big difference between the two is that heroes move in the right direction. God’s people and our nation are in great need of spiritual heroes. They are ordinary people who will embrace God and His ways and help lead others towards that end. Heroes aren’t determined by great giftedness, optimistic emotions, or a lack of fear. They simply deny the fear and move in the right direction.
Gen 1:26-27 “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over…God created man in His own image.
God created us to bear His image and likeness in the earth. While He made us to bear His image there is a great danger when we seek to make Him into ours. It is a big problem if we imagine how we would like God to be them attribute that image to Him.
Part of the pollution of the fallen nature causes people to project their own beliefs onto God. In periods of decline and waywardness God’s people always attempted this futile effort. Psa 50:17-21 “For you hate discipline, And you cast My words behind you. 18 “When you see a thief, you are pleased with him, And you associate with adulterers… 20 “You sit and speak against your brother; You slander your own mother’s son. 21 “These things you have done and I kept silence; You thought that I was just like you; I will reprove you and state the case in order before your eyes.
It seems when things become difficult or God doesn’t seem to allow things to go in the way we desire we are tempted to change God’s image. The children of Israel did this when Moses went on the mountain to receive God’s revelation. While on the mountain the people became restless and fearful because Moses was taking so long. They decided to make another god they way the wanted him to be then follow him.
Exo 32:1-8 Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god who will go before us…7 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, “Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8 “They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and have sacrificed to it and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!'”
They used the same name “god” (Elohim) that God used when He revealed Himself to Moses at the burning bush. Exodus 3:6 He said also, “I am the God (Elohim) of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”
Examples pointing to this phenomenon
People still do this today. A research team led by Nicholas Epley of the University of Chicago did research on the tendency in people to project their own beliefs about God onto Him. The research was published in 2009 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which is the scientific journal of the national academy of sciences. They discovered through a variety of experiments including brain scans that people tended to project their own beliefs about God onto Him instead of beliefs from others. In other words they tend to make Him in their own image.
We saw another example of this a couple of years ago when the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song decided to exclude from its new hymnal the much-loved song “In Christ Alone” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend. The Committee wanted to include this song because it was being sung in many churches, Presbyterian and otherwise, but they didn’t like a line from the third stanza: “Till on that cross as Jesus died/the wrath of God was satisfied.” They wanted to substitute: “…as Jesus died/the love of God was magnified.” The authors insisted on the original wording, and the Committee voted nine to six that “In Christ Alone” would not be among the eight hundred or so items in their new hymnal.
How many times to we do similar things with the parts of the Bible we don’t like? I recently listened to a popular speaker talk about the fear of God. The fear of God is mentioned about 490 times in the Bible which makes it one of the most mentioned subjects. As He attempted to relay what the fear of God was He made it into something very unbiblical. He made God seem like a kind, harmless, but lonely grandfather who so much wants us to be with Him that He is obligated to love us and doesn’t care how we live.
One of the great early church leaders Tertullian (160 – c. 225 AD) from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa, responded to similar attempts in his day to spin God. He said, “a better god has been discovered, one who is neither offended nor angry nor inflicts punishment, who has no fire warming up in hell, and no outer darkness wherein there is shuddering and gnashing of teeth: he is merely kind.”
Paul made a point in Romans for God’s people to appreciate both the attributes of His kindness and severity knowing that both are connected to who He is. Rom 11:20-22…they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; (21) for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. (22) Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.
If we attempt to make God in the image we desire we end up playing into the enemy’s hand as he attempts to wipe out the image of God among His people seen in the following poem. Cootche, cootche, cootche, coo, God loves me and God loves you. Smile sinner don’t be sad, God’s angry He’s not mad. Even when you leave the path, there’s no hell and there’s no wrath. So don’t you fear just do your best, judgment day won’t be a test. God sees your heart and that enough, the judgment seat won’t be that tough. For you can’t sin away His grace, or take that smile from His face. Cause God is love and love is good, He’ll treat you like you think He should. Just trust me sinner to the end, my name is Satan and I’m your friend.
Here is an edited version of making Jesus into the image we desire.
We need heroic and authentic Christianity in the earth today. Many times when we hear calls for heroic Christians to step forward we often think of it in individualistic terms. The Bible clearly tells us however that the church is God’s chosen instrument to demonstrate and expand the glory of Jesus in the world (Ephesians 1:22-23, 2:19-22, 3:2-3, 9-11,14-21). This isn’t church in some abstract universal form. Of the 114 times the Greek word for church is used “Ecclesia,” 96 of those references are about distinct local churches where people are living out the life of Jesus as they walk together under God given leadership. They don’t just go to church they carry God’s dream together.