In Search of a Virtual God
We have become a world focused on “virtual” things to fill the void in our lives. Technology taunts us with “virtual reality” and we have bought in to the idea that “virtual” is good enough. The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word virtual as “existing or resulting in essence or effect though not in actual fact, form, or name.” In other words, virtual is almost the real thing but not the same as, or equal to, the real thing. Some of us have decided that a “virtual god” will suffice for what we need in our lives. The first way that we do this is we try to turn the living God into a “virtual god.” We want God to be available and ready to do what we want Him to do when we want Him to do it but otherwise, He needs to just wait for our next call. Secondly, some have decided that virtual gods are good enough. Virtual gods may be money, power, possessions, alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, our job or any thing else we place greater importance upon than a relationship with the ever real and living God. Exodus 20:4-6 gives us the 2nd of the 10 commandments which says 4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God,” This passage describes the natural tendency of man to make gods of his own choosing. Had man not had this tendency, God would have never given us this commandment. A virtual god can then be defined as an idol because anything that takes priority over our relationship with the real God becomes an idol or a “virtual god.” You might ask how will I know if something is a “virtual god.” Simply put, things that occupy your attention, that are constantly on your mind, that dominate your thoughts and consume your desires can easily become a “virtual god.”
Let’s look at it another way. How would you answer the question “Lord I will give you anything but…” (You fill in the blank). Are there things in your life that you would be unwilling to hand over to God? What about Lord I will do anything for you but…” Is there something you just wouldn’t do for God? How about “God I’ll change anything in my life except …” Are there things in your life you just would not give up for God? Are there places you shouldn’t be going? Are there relationships that you should sever?
Before you completely shut me out, let me quickly say that there is nothing wrong with enjoying the fruits of your labor. But when things (new this or that, bigger this or that, etc.) take precedence over your relationship with God then its time to make some adjustments.
The next obvious question is “how do I make God a priority in my life?” First, let’s understand that human beings are hard-wired to worship. We were created to respond to much more than just basic instinct or desires. Worship is giving of yourself and what we give ourselves to is what we worship. You can worship yourself or other people, you can worship possessions or a lifestyle but when we worship something other than Almighty God we are worshipping “virtual gods.” Psalm 115: 4-7 gives us a glimpse of the effectiveness of virtual gods. It says “4 But their idols are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. 5 They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; 6 they have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but they cannot smell; 7 they have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but they cannot walk; nor can they utter a sound with their throats.” In other words, the virtual gods people worship are powerless. They may initially appear to be a satisfactory replacement for the real thing but over time they leave us feeling empty and unfulfilled. An “almost god” is nothing like the real thing!
You see we have to choose to worship God! God loved us enough that He created us in His own image. He also loved us enough to give us what is often referred to as “free will.” That simply means He allows us to make choices regarding how we will lead our lives. But God did not just create us and then turn us loose without any resources to draw us to Him. He speaks to us through His word, the Holy Bible. God provides us with direction, instruction, comfort, and wisdom in His word. As we study God’s word we begin to recognize His voice and as we pray, that same voice speaks to our hearts. While some develop an intellectual relationship with God, His desire is to have a heart relationship with us. You see a relationship with the Living God is a heart thing, not a head thing. We are talking about a God that can see. In fact He can see us at all times and in all places. He sees our joy and He sees our pain. He not only sees the outside but He sees what is going on inside us. This God can hear. As we lift our voices to Him, He hears what we are saying and He responds. His response may not be our response or the answer we desire, but He responds and answers all who call upon His name. The Living God’s desire is to reconcile His heart with the hearts of every man, woman and child. You see it is not God that separates Himself from us but we choose to separate ourselves from Him.
So how do we go about reconciling our heart with Gods? Bill Bright, Founder of Campus Crusade for Christ wrote a tract called the Four Spiritual Laws and it is still used today to share the Gospel. They are:
Law 1: God LOVES you and offers a wonderful PLAN for your life.
God’s Love â€¨”God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).
God’s Plan â€¨[Christ speaking] “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly” [that it might be full and meaningful] (John 10:10).
Why is it that most people are not experiencing the abundant life? Because…
Law 2: Man is SINFUL and SEPARATED from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God’s love and plan for his life.
Man Is Sinful â€¨”All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).â€¨Man was created to have fellowship with God; but, because of his stubborn self-will, he chose to go his own independent way, and fellowship with God was broken. This self-will, characterized by an attitude of active rebellion or passive indifference, is an evidence of what the Bible calls sin.
Man Is Separated â€¨”The wages of sin is death” [spiritual separation from God] (Romans 6:23).
This diagram illustrates that God is holy and man is sinful. A great gulf separates the two. The arrows illustrate that man is continually trying to reach God and the abundant life through his own efforts, such as a good life, philosophy, or religion – but he inevitably fails.
The third law explains the only way to bridge this gulf…
Law 3: Jesus Christ is God’s ONLY provision for man’s sin. Through Him you can know and experience God’s love and plan for your life.
He Died in Our Place â€¨”God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
He Rose From the Dead â€¨”Christ died for our sins…He was buried…He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures…He appeared to Peter, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred…” (1 Corinthians 15:3-6).
He Is the Only Way to God â€¨”Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me'” (John 14:6).
This diagram illustrates that God has bridged the gulf which separates us from Him by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross in our place to pay the penalty for our sins.
It is not enough just to know these three laws…
Law 4: We must individually RECEIVE Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God’s love and plan for our lives.
We Must Receive Christ â€¨”As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12)
We Receive Christ Through Faith â€¨”By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9).
When We Receive Christ, We Experience a New Birth â€¨(Read John 3:1-8.)
We Receive Christ by Personal Invitation â€¨[Christ speaking] “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him” (Revelation 3:20).
Receiving Christ involves turning to God from self (repentance) and trusting Christ to come into our lives to forgive our sins and to make us what He wants us to be. Just to agree intellectually that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died on the cross for our sins is not enough. Nor is it enough to have an emotional experience. We receive Jesus Christ by faith, as an act of the will.
These two circles represent two kinds of lives:
Which circle best describes your life?â€¨
Which circle would you like to have represent your life?
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior you can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer (Prayer is talking to God). God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. The following is a suggested prayer:
“Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.”
Does this prayer express the desire of your heart?
If it does, I invite you to pray this prayer right now, and Christ will come into your life, as He promised.
Maybe you have previously prayed a prayer like this one but you have allowed the “virtual” god-wanna-bes take a hold in your life. There is no better time than right now to get your life back on track with the “real thing”, the one and only Living God. He created you, He loves you, and His desire is to be the focal point of your life. Will you make Him Lord of your life right now?