“I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world” (Mat 13:34-35).
The deep thoughts of God were always revealed through Jesus, the wisdom of God, as He spoke in parables things hidden from the foundation of the world.
Jesus spoke in parables because the mystery of God could not be revealed to the multitudes. Those who desired to understand those mysteries would draw closer to Jesus in a more private setting (v 36). This way the insincere would be divided from the true seekers.
The spoken wisdom of God embodied in Jesus was like a sword that cut away the fat that made people’s ears heavy and dull. The sword of His word circumcised them to hear and receive truth. Those who yielded to this sword were separated from the popular camp of the scribes and Pharisees, and others who served religious systems that made mention of God, but who didn’t have a true revelation of Him.
Too many in our church pulpits have taken a moratorium on Christ’s identity. The popular, politically correct, and “wannabe” culturally relevant American church is saying of Jesus Christ: “You are the one who makes us feel good. You are the one who understands my sinful issues and addictions. You are the one who blesses us and makes us rich.” Some of that is actually true. He does understand and He does bless, but the image portrayed of a pie-in-the-sky type of god who is never angry, displeased or disappointed, makes the spirit of it false. He cannot be whatever we want or need Him to be.
The Church presents Christ as the therapist, the banker, the philosopher, the friend, the hippie, the social activist, the look-the-other-way zero accountability spiritual figure.
Why are the majority of people in the West so confused or deceived about who Jesus really is? Why do they seem to have so little depth or spiritual substance in their lives? Why doesn’t some people’s Christianity go beyond, “Jesus said, ‘do not judge’”? Is it not in large part due to the distorted message of Him that our pulpits, our preachers, and our churches are presenting? Similarly, much of the reason for today’s current moral and cultural malaise derives from a distorted message of the Christ coming from the Church.
The image of Jesus for many professing Christians has been shaped by the society around them. Unless you have an intimate relationship with the Holy One and His Word, the image you have of Him will be distorted. It will resemble the pop culture you live in and what the people of that culture worship. In the West, self is god. Incorruptible man is worshipped. Humanism rules.
If a professing believer does not want to give up his carnal, worldly, sinful lifestyle and adhere to the Lord’s ways he can just create an image of God that makes room for that kind of lifestyle. It is a very subtle deception that comforts and consoles him in his carnality, worldliness, and sin by saying things like, “God knows my heart,” or “God understands my struggles”. These types of comments, however, are usually made as a way of defending his lifestyle and justifying his carnal, worldly, and sinful appetites. Is the Jesus you serve a product of your own desires patterned after this world, or is He the true presence of the living Word of God in your life?
For example, divorce is now a rampant part of our western culture, and the divorce rate in the church is nearly equal to that in the world. Many professing Christians find an unscriptural excuse to leave their spouses, and in contradiction to the will of God, they forsake the vows they once made. And now that our culture is deteriorating to levels of sexual anarchy, professing Christians are claiming that one can be gay and be a Christian. This is what happens when professing Christians flow with the spirit of the world. The image of God in them changes.
Emil Durkheim, the classic father of sociology, wrote extensively about totemism. Totemism is derived from the word totem which is a natural object or an animate being, such as an animal or bird, assumed to be the emblem of a clan, family, or group. It can be an object or a natural phenomenon that a family considers closely related to, or serving as a distinctive mark of that group or family. Totemism is the belief in the kinship of groups or individuals having a common totem and the rituals, taboos, and practices associated with such a belief.
Durkheim described totemism as the human tendency to form a conception of God in our own image. He said that oftentimes human beings, whether they are jungle tribes or sophisticated city dwellers, will take the values and traditions that they admire most about themselves and project them on a totem. Eventually, they stand in awe of that totem and end up worshipping an incarnation of the things they love about themselves. This is what people do with the image of God. We create an image of a god whom we can relate to and who cares about the same things we care about.
During the days of Moses, Israel was living in an environment that worshipped images of animals and creeping things, and so a golden calf was fashioned from the people’s gold and worshipped (Ex 32). “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things” (Rom 1:22-23). Their culture influenced and shaped their image of God. If you don’t stay in God’s presence and in God’s Word the same thing could happen to you.
Beware of idolatry and changing the the glory of the incorruptible God into an image of corruptible man (Rom. 1:23).