On Loving God

On Loving God

By now you should be well informed of what the new mission statement is for the RiverWalk Church of Christ. We have done our best to make it so that this new statement will seep deep into your thinking. There were banners hung in the auditorium, signs posted in each classroom, blog posts written and a sermon preached, all in the effort to put before you the vision that the leaders of the church have for our congregation going forward. At the RiverWalk Church of Christ, we are about “Loving God …Transforming Lives…and Sharing Jesus.”

Now that this has been laid out before us, I want to take the next three weeks to dig deeper into the significance and meaning of each aspect of our mission. Our subject this week is “Loving God.”

During the sermon on Sunday I used a quote from A. W. Tozer to emphasize the importance for how we think about God. Tozer suggests it is the single most important thing about us. I want to begin this week with another quote from Tozer. Consider the following statement:

“I believe there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God.”

What Tozer is saying is that almost any error we have in the Christian faith, whether it is in the form of doctrine or moral living, can ultimately be traced back to wrong thoughts about God. I think he is right. The foundation of both our faith and our living is what we know to be true about God. If we think rightly about God, this will go a long way in ensuring that we live in a way that is just and true. Why? Because we naturally live out what we believe. However, if we have learned to think about God in ways that are unjust or even evil, this will drastically affect how we live our lives.

We learn from the gospels that this is one of the primary reasons Jesus came to us as the Son of God in human flesh. Jesus claims in the Gospel of John that to have seen him is to have seen the Father. Many people did not understand this because they had learned to think about God in mistaken ways. When God truly came and lived among them, they did not recognize him, because the kind of God they believed in was not the same God that they saw revealed in the words, actions, and life of Jesus Christ.

This shows us just how dangerous our thoughts can be about God. We can think about him so wrongly that we wouldn’t even recognize him if he were to come to our very house. This should give all of us pause!

With that in mind, this brings to light one of the primary tasks of Christian discipleship. We must learn how to think about God as he truly is. We must come to see God as the noble, beautiful, lovely, and worthy being that Jesus teaches us about in the Gospels.

In large measure, this means learning to think about the Father as Jesus thought about him.

Consider the following quote from Dallas Willard:

“The process of spiritual formation in Christ is one of progressively replacing destructive images and ideas with images and ideas that filled the mind of Jesus himself.”

What did Jesus think about? What occupied his mind? How did he think about the Father? These are important questions that we must seek to answer; and upon finding the answer, seek to implement into our own thinking. This is not something that will be done for us. We can be sure that God’s grace will assist us in ways beyond our ability, but the initiative remains with us.

Dallas suggests to us that this is a crucial part of Christian spiritual formation. While it won’t happen all at once, there must be a progressive replacement of destructive images and ideas with the ideas that filled the mind of Jesus himself. Paul says it this way, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” This is the foundational task of Christian discipleship, and it is also why it is the first of three statements in our mission statement.

So as we prepare to reflect on loving God in our sermon this Sunday, ask yourself a few important questions. What do I primarily think of when I think of God? Do I find God to be noble, beautiful, lovely, and praiseworthy, or do I find myself deeply troubled about God? Does my idea of God look like Jesus? What fills my mind throughout the week? What occupies my thoughts? What do the content of my thoughts reveal about me? These are important questions to reflect on. Whatever answers you come up with, remember these words from Tozer: “How you think about God is the most important thing about you.”

–Curtis Baker

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