We are prone to think of God--when we think of Him at all--as wonderful. We are less likely to see Him as willful. Certainly He is both, but the overwhelming emphasis of Scripture is upon the will rather than the wonder. It is upon the exercise of God's prerogative rather than the expiation of our pleasure. The difference is probably a matter of slights rather than slanders. Nevertheless, it is a difference that makes for rather dramatic consequences.
Thus, to some of us God is little more than a cosmic vending machine in the sky, designed to dispense our every want and whim. To others of us He is a grandfatherly sage who lives to patiently offer us certain therapeutic benefits and baubles from His largess. To still others He is a kind of Santa figure--jolly, unflappable, and determined to bestow goodies upon incognizant masses. Invariably though, we moderns tend to see God in terms of ourselves--in terms of our wants, our needs, our preferences, and our desires. We have apparently, as Voltaire accused, "made God in our own image."
But, according to psychologist Paul Vitz, such a conception is not knowledge of God at all, but a form of "self-worship." According to J.C. Ryle, it is "the cruelest of all delusions" because "by it men think they have come to a knowledge God when in fact they have done nothing of the sort." Thus, Joseph Aulen has argued that "the vast proportion of modern Christians have a vastly mistaken knowledge of the person and work of the Almighty."
Thus, according to D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, "because men do not know God or the nature of God--particularly those who claim to be Christians--all of the problems of life and culture are amplified even more." Andrew Murray asserts that it is due to the fact that Christians do not "properly entertain a knowledge of God" that "societies fall into such disarray as we have in the modern world." And A.W. Tozer has said that "a lack of a true knowledge of God's attributes and character" is the "root of the indecisiveness, imbalance, and ineffectiveness" of the contemporary church.”