In the beginning, God was edited. The serpent initiated deception in Genesis 3:1 by asking Eve, “Has God said, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?’”. The serpent twisted what God spoke to Adam, with a little truth and a lot of lie. The original instruction from God was in Genesis 2, “Of every tree of the garden you may eat freely, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it, or you will die.” Eve counters the serpent with an addition to what the instruction had been, “You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, or you will die.” We have been editing God ever since.
What do I mean by editing God? Editing God is making God in our own image. It’s manipulating or changing what the God of heaven says and does, to fit what makes us comfortable. We pick and choose pieces of His character or parts of the Bible that make us feel good enough, a nice pat on the back, but stay away from the parts that convict us.
A few years ago, my husband and I sat side by side in a Sunday morning church service, as our pastor began his sermon on the Holy Spirit. As he began describing the Holy Spirit, he asked us to imagine the Holy Spirit as a friend standing next to him. He raised his arm in the air, as if to put his arm around his imaginary friend, as he said, “I’ve given the Holy Spirit a new name. His name is Buddy.” He went on to describe friendship with “Buddy”, but the more he spoke the more nauseated I became. Honestly, I thought I would vomit, and it was as if in my head I could hear the boom echo over the speaker system, “The Holy Spirit has left the building.” Within months, we were forced to find another church. Our probably well-meaning pastor placed the precious Holy Spirit in his parameters of “Buddy”, his friend, and it felt like the real person of the Trinity took a polite bow and left. Holy Spirit is my best friend, but He is not my buddy, my home boy. He’s not in any way on the same level as me. Like the rest of the Godhead, He is far above me, and I highly respect and honor His presence, not wanting ever to grieve Him.
Yesterday, my daughter came home from public high school relaying to me the brilliance of her English teacher. In class, they are discussing the Scarlet Letter, so her teacher decided to put the answers to her well thought out questions in a statistics format on the their laptops, allowing each student to remain anonymous. Painfully, my daughter came to the realization that she was in the minute minority on every question asked. Basically, she was one of the three in a class of thirty with any moral compass at all. The overwhelming majority cast their votes to do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, as long as it felt good to them. Basically, they wanted to be their own God, and saw no direct consequence to that way of thinking. They couldn’t even begin to understand why someone would want to “do what’s right”, because after all there is no right or wrong.
When we edit God, making Him in our own image, we put ourselves in a place where we become our own God. We craft our own sacred poles (idols) bowing down in worship of an image we’ve constructed. Many would say we have no idols today. The truth is anything we depend on to bring us comfort or to take the place of the true God, becomes an idol. We have placed it as a God in our lives or, at least, an edited version of God,
In my own life, my friendships with others has been the place I’ve run to for safety or comfort instead of to God. As He has shifted many of those relationships in the past year, I’ve found myself an emotional mess, wanting to hold onto things I shouldn’t. I love people, and I want to love like He does, deeply, purely. But when I run to them to fill me instead of Papa, I’ve made them into an idol.
One story that the Holy Spirit has reminded me of a lot lately, is the story of Gideon. When God came to him, the first thing he was instructed to do was to take down the altar of Baal and the sacred pole his father had erected to worship false Gods. God spoke to my heart, “If Gideon would have failed to destroy the altar and pole, he would never have fulfilled his destiny; defeating the Midianites.”
God is love. He cares for us and is compassionate beyond anything we can imagine. This is why He’s developed the relationship with me as my Papa. He is my loving father. Out of that love, He is also the great “I Am”, the Highest King, the Potter, my Maker, the Creator of the Universe . He doesn’t ask me for my opinion on how to run things. He puts me in situations often that I don’t like, that make me very uncomfortable. He asks me to trust Him, when nothing makes sense. He demonstrates His power in me when I am completely powerless. He signs me up for classes that I didn’t ask for, and gives me tests that I don’t want to take. He’s the Lord. He’s the boss. I am not.
He does let me partner with Him to do things on the earth that He wants done. I still think that is crazy; that He loves us enough to include us. That’s family. We are His kids, and He wants us to partner with Him to take dominion on the earth. We are Priests in His courts and can come before Him interceding for others, just like Jesus does for us. Even in all of this though, I am coming into agreement with His thoughts, His plans, His intent. He doesn’t consult me, I agree with Him.
He’s not my genie in a bottle, that I just run to when I have a problem, rub the bottle, and poof He answers my request. He does want to be involved in every aspect of my life, so when I misplace my keys for the tenth time today, yes, He wants to help me find them. And often He does, but if that’s where my relationship ends with Him, and I treat Him like a convenience store, I have reduced the Holy of Holies to a lucky rabbit’s foot.
In worship, recently, the Holy Spirit jolted me. I felt like He said, “My children choose masturbation over the real thing.” Well, that honestly kind of shocked me, but I leaned into the voice and asked for understanding. In a marriage, obviously, the most intimate time is sexual intercourse. Many times, lovers chose an imitation to the real thing like masturbation and/or pornography, because it’s something they can control and manipulate, satisfying the flesh without exposing their heart. In the intimacy of the marriage bed, flesh to flesh, heart to heart, we can’t hide. God awakes us to His love. Jealous for our affection, for our naked heart, He will not settle for an imitation instead of the real thing. He is done with His bride running to everyone else for what they should be getting from Him. He is drawing His bride into his intimate love. He’s jealous for us. Nothing can substitute for the real thing.
My friends, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah is coming. I believe He is bringing the passionate, relentless, fire of His love, but He is also restoring the fear of the Lord. You can not have one without the other. You don’t get to pick and choose. He is bringing both. And if we get uncomfortable with that, and we try to edit God, fitting Him into our own little box of expectations, He will leave and go elsewhere. He will not be placed in neat little boxes of our own making. If He leaves, we will be left with an empty, meaningless program. That may look good for a while, but in the end will leave us with nothing but a dead, hollow imitation that won’t fulfill us, but will suck life from us.
Graham Cooke says “I started to understand some things about the nature of God – that He is not like any other human being I have ever met. And the reason for that, He is not human. He is divine. He is altogether different. And so I thought for me what that meant was I should never try to make God in my image. I never try to make Him like all the people who have ever disappointed me or betrayed me.”
Yesterday, I woke up in the middle of the night with the song, “Tightrope” from the Greatest Showman gently playing in my head.
“Some people long for a life that is simple and planned. Tied with a ribbon. Some people won’t sail the sea, cause they’re safer on land to follow what’s written, but I’d follow you to the great unknown. Off to a world we call our own. Hand in my hand, and we promise to never let go. We’re walking a tightrope. High in the sky we can see the whole world down below. We’re walking a tightrope. Never sure, never know how far we could fall. But it’s all an adventure that comes with a breathtaking view. Walking a tight rope with you.”
He loves us. He’s wooing us to take His hand and let Him lead us on this grand adventure, but we must take Him fully, as He is. Unedited.