Read this fascinating article this morning: God, as it turns out, looks a lot like you.
These few sentences summarise the findings of the research:
Researchers led by Nicholas Epley, a professor of behavioural science at the University of Chicago, said believers often rely on what they think God wants them to do as a ”moral compass”. But this is a poor analogy, they found.
”The central feature of a compass is that it points north no matter what direction a person is facing,” they wrote.
”Unlike an actual compass, inferences about God’s beliefs may instead point people further in whatever direction they are already facing.”
In other words, God becomes a reflection of man – we create God in our image, and then use him to justify our beliefs to others. Its a line that preachers have used for a while, but now here is research that backs it up.
So how do you avoid this?
Tim Keller makes a good point in his book, The Reason for God. He argues that if you are going to be in a relationship with God, who is actually sovereign over all, then don’t be surprised if there is some conflict – that’s normal in a relationship. Don’t be surprised if God’s ways don’t always line up with our ways. Don’t be surprised that when God says he will ‘renew our minds’ by his Spirit, that there is actually something there that needs renewing.
In other words, when God speaks his perfect and utterly good will for our lives in his Word the Bible, don’t be surprised if from time to time we find things there which jar against our culture and our patterns of thinking. This is God revealing himself to us, as he has chosen to do. And when he does that, at points it will jar against thought patterns shaped by the world we live in which doesn’t love God above all else.
If we won’t let God’s Words, the bible, disagree with us, and be able to move us, then all we are left with is a God in our own image – and instead of being in an intimate relationship with the Creator, all we end up doing is loving ourselves.