by Brandon Thomas

Somewhere in my spiritual journey I picked up this saying: The most important thought you will ever think is what you think about when you think of God. That’s a mouthful, isn’t it? No other occupation of the mind is more central to our existence than what we think of God. It affects every other thought and action that we undertake. It informs our relationships. It drives our work ethic. It colors our emotional state. It gives wings to our desires, passions, and purposes. Whether you are deeply religious or a devout atheist—what you think about when you think of God is critical to how you navigate life on this planet.

There are several common ways we like to approach God or think about him. Some people think of God as distant. He’s over there somewhere. We may grant him brand loyalty rather than devotion. We are as committed to him as we are our favorite sports logo that we wear, but he’s not really engaged in our lives. Or he might be like a service provider that we use from time to time; we only call him when we need him. If you view God this way, he is largely uninvolved in your life until you really need him. He is mostly in the far recesses of your mind.

I have to ask, though, when was the last time God really changed something inside of you? You can say all day, “I love God,” but when was the last time he really impacted your life? If you’re on God’s team, then why are you just sitting in the stands?

Other people think of God as someone who is near, but they wish he wasn’t. We think of him as over here, but we wish he was somewhere over there. Those people view God as present in their lives, but he’s a little too present. You might be one of those people. If you think of God that way, he is a biblical buzz kill or cosmic killjoy. He’s ruining your good time. You feel as though you’re being inspected all the time. He’s evaluating your every move, and it’s starting to make you feel a little uncomfortable.

If that’s your view of God, then you’re probably running from him most of the time. When you don’t want to deal with the guilt and the pressure, you just get out of town. That also colors your view of the church. You most likely think of the church as a bunch of critical, boring people who are against everything. The church is against this and against that, especially if it’s something fun.

One of the hard realities of this viewpoint is that you will go everywhere else but God for your good time. And “everywhere else but God” is a destination leading to destruction. If you don’t believe God is a blast—the source of abundant life, the source of all of your fun—you'll try all the wrong things and travel to the wrong destinations for your good time. And, eventually, you will end up taking God's good gifts and using them in God-forbidden ways. All of those good things that God means for your good pleasure—like sex, food, drink, entertainment, money, career, and even power—will end up being used in ways he never intended.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!

Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Psalm 34:8 ESV)

As we invite others to experience a life following Jesus, let us invite them to a lifestyle experiencing delights unmatched by anything the culture can offer.