Have you ever had an “Old Man” in your life? You know, someone who is older than anyone can remember, super sweet, and more than a little insane?
For me, it was a man named John. John’s house had fallen into disrepair as he got older, and his yard was littered with park benches that he had collected. John was the nicest guy in my neighborhood, but that would change if you ever spit gum or skateboarded anywhere within a 100 feet of his house. You see, John came to believe that he owned the street his house was on, and would try to hose down or chase away anyone that committed a crime on it. Despite this, no one ever got angry at him about this because that was how “Old Man John” was.
"Old Man God"
I think that many of us think of God as “Old Man God” without even realizing it. We see God as ancient and full of love, even though he goes overboard every once and awhile by giving us commands about how we should live. But that’s just the way “Old Man God” is, we may think.
You may say that that isn’t how you view God, but consider this.
As a church, we just went through the Ten Commandments. When you see these commands (or any of the other commands in the Bible) do you take them seriously? Or, do you smile, nod politely, and go along your merry way? I think in our culture, it’s easier for us (myself included) to ignore God’s commands than try to obey them.
Most Americans - Christian or Non-Christian - believe in “Old Man God”. We have this idea that God is an old grandparent figure that fits our lifestyle and how we want to live. If you picture God as a combination of that wizard from Lord of the Rings and Santa Claus, you’re not alone. As long as God loves us, keeps to himself, gives us things, and gives us pep talks, we are willing to nod and smile when he says something crazy like “You will have no other gods before me” or “You will not commit adultery or lust after a woman.” After all, God is older than dirt and doesn’t understand how the world works now-a-days, right? We can’t expect His commands to be relevant or of concern to us now, right?
If you’re used to dismissing “Old Man God”, please consider the alternative because this view of God and his commandments is completely untrue. So I want to show you how boring, tiresome, and powerless “Old Man God” is, and how beautiful, gracious, and powerful the real God is.
First, "Old Man God" is Boring
We grow bored of things that are safe, and the real God is not. No one is bored in front of an uncaged lion or in the middle of a hurricane, but when God appears he is the deadliest force ever known, appearing with fire, wind, thunder, lightning, and earthquakes. He is equal parts beautiful and terrifying. Worship the real God and you will never be bored. Overwhelmed and scared, maybe, but never bored.
Second, “Old Man God" is Tiresome
We constantly break God’s commands and ideals and can picture nothing but an old man in a rocking chair frowning down on us. To be forgiven by “Old Man God” doesn’t free us from the guilt of breaking God’s laws, and we never know if we really have his forgiveness. By contrast, Jesus is King of Kings. Rather than incessantly beat you over the head with the wrongs you’ve done, He pardoned you by dying on your behalf on the cross.
This is a big deal. What’s more gracious, “Old Man God” laughing off your sin and leaving you to deal with it, or the king of the universe forgiving you and adopting you in front of all his subjects and enemies? Easy choice! Worship the real God and be freed from your tired load of keeping a moral code without forgiveness.
Finally, “Old Man God" is Powerless!
He can’t really do anything with your lawbreaking. He can’t help you defeat sin in your life. He can’t offer you anything as you grow older and approach decay and death. But the real God is powerful, conquering sin and death and rescuing the people that He loves. He doesn’t get tired or weak. Worship the real God and find out what the Bible means when it says that He is mighty to save.
When we worship a beautiful, gracious, powerful God, there really is no other response for us than to drop our image of “Old Man God”. It means that we are no longer oppressed with the fear of rejection or that God can’t have any meaning in our lives. His words start sounding less nutty and more like they have the ring of truth. And in response to the real God, we start trusting God, asking for forgiveness, telling others about Jesus, and even keeping His commands.