One area that I’m passionate about is engaging theological matters and connecting them to the real world. I love being able to talk about how our views of the end of the world affect today, how what we believe about the beginning of the world affects evangelism, how our witness is compromised when we cling to the sword, and how the church is emerging in postmodern culture.
In fact, it’s safe to say that my mind is always at work in this way. I’m constantly making connections in my mind about how the Bible and the world interact. Dreaming Kingdom of God sorts of dreams is a passion that I believe comes from God. The byproduct of this sort of introspection is what I write here on this blog.
The other area that I’m passionate about is knowing Jesus. Not simply ascribing to set of beliefs about Jesus, but experiencing the infilling of the Holy Spirit. As it is with most Christians, this is a cyclical sort of relationship. At times I feel like God is close, like John Wesley described his heart being “strangely warmed.” At other times I wonder if God even remembers my name.
Certainly we have evidence of this sort of cycle in Scripture. The Psalms demonstrate that at times the writers could sense that God was near and at other times yearned for God to show up. Sometimes God’s Spirit is close and at other times God seems distant.
From what I can tell, when God seems distant, we have an opportunity to allow doubt to do its work: build trust within us. The dance between doubt and faith makes us into people who rely fully on God, even a God we cannot see or feel.Add to this that some folks know God through the text and faith alone. A dynamic at work may be the fact that God interacts with diverse personalities differently. We should also be okay with this and not assume that everyone experiences God monolithically.
I want to suggest that either of these, the intellectual side of faith or the experiential can become an idol.
God gives us an intellect and expects us to form an ideology patterned after the Kingdom. Taken too far, our intellect can drag us away from the point: Jesus Christ.
God gives us the Holy Spirit so we can know and experience the fullness of Christ. Yet if we are not careful, we can make an idol out of charismatic and emotional experiences. The idol of the “encounter” is dangerous because we become more in love with that than Christ himself.
Timothy Keller has the following definition of an idol:
“An idol is something that we look to for things that only God can give.”
Only God can satisfy the deep longings of our intellect, our dreams about how the Bible speaks into our situation in the 21st century.
Only God can satisfy our longings to know and experience Christ.
My hope is that I will refuse to allow my ideology to ever become an Idol-ology. Simultaneously, I hope that I won’t rely on “experiences” with God to sustain me, but only God who may be close even when I don’t feel it.
Finally, I also hope in writing this is that you will evaluate your own life to discern if your ideas or experiences are replacing God. May we avoid all forms of “idol-ology.”
 Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods, 131 and 136.