In his book, The Knowledge of the Holy, 20th-century pastor and author A. W. Tozer insightfully observed, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
What comes to your mind? Is your initial instinct to think about a God who is “out there”? Is your default assumption that He is far away, in the heavens, on high? Because of the lingering impact of Renaissance artwork, or perhaps even Saturday morning cartoons, our unexamined functional view of God might be that He is an old, beardy Zeus-man, sitting on a big, gilded throne in outer space, ruling over, but removed from the cares of creation. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Now, you might protest that your theology is far more sophisticated than that. But I wonder, if we’re really honest with ourselves, how often we operate with that cartoonish view of God as a working assumption. Meaning, you might have strong theology proper, but how is your theology practical? Do your actions and instincts betray your confessions and professions? Do you confess that God is near, but act like He is far off?
When I think about our reading for today, I wonder how Rahab had such a strong sense of faith and courage in the face of adversity and opposition. In part, I think it’s because of what came to her mind when she spoke the truth about God.
“I know that the LORD has given you this land…
For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea
before you when you came out of Egypt…
When we heard this, we lost heart…for the LORD your God
is God in heaven above and on earth below” (Joshua 2:9–11).
Given the circumstances, it’s almost humorous that Rahab reminds the spies of the history of God’s action on behalf of the Jewish people. Related to that history of intervention and salvation, she also reminds the spies of the scope and realms of His impact. Simply put, what came to mind for Rahab was that God was not just God “up there,” but also “down here” in creation and with His people.
Let’s be intentional about what we think about when we think about God. He is transcendent, yes. But He is also imminent! He’s here, with us. He’s at work in and through creation, but most importantly, through the incarnation. Jesus is God with us. This means that the battles we fight and the trials we endure are not faced alone.
So, pause. Take time to really think about how you perceive God. And then be emboldened and encouraged to know that He is with you.