I am often shocked at the banalization of God in our culture. Since when did God become our “buddy”? Since when did He go from a friend to a roommate? Now, don’t misunderstand me. I love the idea of God as my “Abba, Father.” Some other religions in the world place God at a distance that makes Him entirely unapproachable. That is not right either.

But the consequences of accessing God as you do an over-the-counter medicine are devastating to our own understanding of self.

First, we tend to see God just like the guy next door. The vast chasm between the Creator and the created being is obliterated. Job complained that God was not one like him so he could present his case directly to Him but we now live in an age in which people claim to talk to God directly by looking at the clouds or by divining a Jesus-like figure on a pancake made in a fast-food restaurant.

Secondly, treating God like a generic brand of a cheap product from a department store gives you a false sense of security. In other words, God is no longer one to be feared but one to be used. Sin, which can be generally defined as breaking God’s law, no longer applies because we are not dealing with someone who is vastly more powerful and awesome than us. God then becomes a mere pill for comfort, and there are no consequences to not taking the pill.

The third reason why this re-branding of God is bad is that it permits us to live without a sense of mission. History suddenly becomes an endless cycle of unrelated events that are leading nowhere. God is no longer in charge of our destinies and it is every man for Himself.

Whenever I hear someone tell a story of some kind of a transcendental encounter with the divine, I try to look carefully to see how scared the person looks. That’s right; because in the historical records of Scripture, most of the time someone who met with what appeared to be a messenger from God – whether an angel, Christ in the pre-incarnate state, or just a ball of fire engulfing everything in its path – they freaked out. They felt they had met their doom. They were ready to melt down in light of their own insignificance.

And that is exactly what happened to Isaiah in around the year 700 before Christ. He had a vision in the temple where He saw God in all His glory. The scene was so terrifying that Isaiah cried out for His own demise. He realized the vast chasm that existed between Him and God. He understood he was a doomed sinner in need of some major-league rescuing. And after God symbolically purified him, he became aware of an intense sense of purpose and mission that consumed him for the rest of his life.

This Sunday we will examine what happens when we come face-to-face with God’s radiance. When you hear about what happened to Isaiah you will never again think of God as simply the Neighbor next door. And the fear of God will liberate you to serve Him with all your might. I hope you can join us this Sunday, but in case you aren’t able to be there, please watch us live online at http://www.sundaystreams.com/go/meetgrace.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA