[Excerpts from Psychology and the Church by Dave Hunt and T. A. McMahon]
There can be no doubt that we are in the "perilous times" that Paul warned would be characterized by men being "lovers of their own selves" (2 Timothy:3:1-2). Man has always been narcissistic, but for the first time in history self-love is praised and promoted--and selfishly "looking out for Number 1" is a virtue! Even among many evangelicals God commands little reverence and is generally treated as though He exists primarily to fulfill man's desires.
Multitudes of Christians uncritically accept heresy from a Benny Hinn who promises physical healing that doesn't happen, but they refuse correction that would bring desperately needed spiritual healing. Millions seek happiness, but few desire holiness. The gifts are eagerly sought; the Giver is slighted. The pursuit is of blessings rather than the Blesser. Paul's desire "that I may know him" (Philippians:3:10) has been exchanged for "that I might know myself and have my plans blessed by Him." Yet the Bible plainly states that God "is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Hebrews:11:6). Those who seek blessings from God rather than seeking Him are to be pitied no matter how much health or wealth they imagine they receive by positive/possibility thinking. Such self-centered prayers are not "answered" by God but by circumstance or Satan.
Many Christians selfishly imagine that the above verse provides a formula for getting a car, house, good job, and other things from God. Yet what a bad bargain it would be to receive the whole world instead of Him! God wants to reward us with Himself, but most Christians are seeking everything else. Yes, we do have needs in this life and He has promised to meet them. But He has told us to seek first the kingdom of God (which is "not meat and drink" [Romans:14:17] but Himself reigning in our hearts) and His righteousness (Matthew:6:33), and whatever needs we have will be supplied. Those who seek God with the whole heart have no anxieties! This-not psychological therapy-is the antidote for unhappy or fearful souls.
Today's world is rushing headlong to judgment. Many Christians, caught up in the mad pace, find little time for the one worthwhile pursuit both for this life and the next: knowing, loving, and worshiping God. Christianity has been formularized: a few songs, some prayers, a brief, uplifting sermon, hasty parking lot greetings; then, conscience too easily appeased, a hurried departure to the real world of earthly pursuits and pleasures. How paradoxical that the lives of His professed followers leave so little room for God! It is not our natural bent to seek Him but rather to hide from Him. We can only seek God as He first has sought us and draws us to Himself through the wooing of His Holy Spirit in our hearts. This He will do if He is our true and deep desire.
What does it mean to seek God--and, after all, what is the point? Is He not "a God who hides Himself"? Where was God in the Gulag, or Auschwitz? Where has He been hiding in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Israel, Somalia, or in the earthquakes, hurricanes, tidal waves, tornadoes, floods, and fires that ravage this earth? Where is God when we pray and have no sense that anyone is hearing or even cares? Where and why does He hide when we need Him most? Has He no pity for the weeping widow or orphan?
God is not mocked. He is too loving and wise to jump to the aid of those who, having turned a deaf ear to the witness of creation and conscience, now suddenly cry out in disaster for His help. The very tragedy prolonged may prove to be the only means of causing a stubborn heart to turn to Him at last. Christ didn't rush right back to Bethany to raise Lazarus from a sick bed but waited to raise him from the dead in a far greater demonstration of power. The cry must be deeper than a plea for mere rescue from trouble. One's utter hopelessness without God--the opposite of self-esteem, self-worth, etc.-must be seen and the sin of self-importance and self-will confessed. One's desperate need of Him not only in the present circumstances but for eternity must be confessed if God is to be known.
It is not easy for God to reveal Himself. He won't reward mere curiosity. It requires a passion to know Him on our part. How can He help those who, if He worked a miracle in response to their cry, would give credit to Buddha, to Allah, or to some "spirit" or idol or occult force? Reinforcing faith in false gods would not be a kindness but would only grease the road to hell. God hides Himself--not from those who can see but only from those who won't. The ego of man is so inflated that it obscures the God who fills the universe, whose infinite wisdom and power are conspicuous in every leaf and star.
Men are blinded because of their freely chosen false ideas. Most people are not interested in knowing the true God but a "god" who suits their taste, with whom they feel comfortable, and who gives them their desires. Masons, New Agers and members of many of the numerous Twelve-Steps programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous insist that any concept of a "higher power" will do; just believe in "God as you conceive Him to be." God will not reveal Himself to that false faith--but Satan will happily oblige to foster such delusion.
Even many professing Christians have been deceived by popular church-taught formulas for knowing God. One of the most deadly is the belief that God or Christ can be known by visualizing them as one imagines them to be. These visual images conjured up in "inner healing" or "two-way prayer" sometimes even speak, and this is the fastest way to pick up an "inner" or "spirit guide"-literally a demon masquerading as "God," "Christ," "Mary," or whomever one wished to meet and visualized for that occult purpose. The demonization that takes place is not entered into deliberately but is a form of entrapment about which the visualizer cannot complain because he has involved himself in unbiblical techniques that cheapen God and lead in a direction that common sense ought to recognize as deadly.
Nearly thirty years ago, Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini declared, "The purest joy in Islam is to kill and to be killed for Allah!" Since then, hundreds of "suicide bombers" have demonstrated their faith in this Allah of Islam, who promises rewards in "Paradise" for murdering innocent women and children, the more victims the greater the reward-and especially if they are Jews. Such is not the God of the Bible, who is love and whose followers He empowers to love in His name even their enemies.
Now God hides Himself from a world determined not to follow Him but to take its own way. As it was in Israel, so today, everyone wants to do whatever he wants. Any gods will be accepted and honored that honor man as he is, call for no repentance, and promise a false peace built upon "the brotherhood of man." The true God is hidden from a world that has sunk to such depths that He can only reveal Himself in the worst judgment ever known.
Yes, "the day of the Lord will come" (2 Peter:3:10). When Christ returns, as He left, to the Mount of Olives, the entire world, including the fish, birds, animals, and insects, will tremble at His presence (Ezekiel:38:18-20). God will reveal Himself to the entire world in judgment: "Every eye shall see him . . . and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him" (Revelation:1:7), and all flesh will know that He is God!
May our passion be to know and love Him now. May our lives be characterized by a reverent fear of Him. And may we persuade those about us to know, through Jesus Christ, the only true God, whom to know is life eternal.