Being honest with oneself, a person may find that he or she is not so much in love with God, but, at least in part, his or her idea of God. This becomes obvious as one matures in his or her understanding of theology. As biblical truth found through Scriptural study begins to replace traditional thought instilled by others and/or self-referenced thought driven by desire, one may find his or her entire religious framework being deconstructed and rebuilt. The Christian faith is an entering into a relationship with a transcendent Being that cannot be entirely understood by the human mind. Thus, categorical knowledge of the being of God will forever be an unfinished area of understanding. It is often a painful revelation when one begins to discover that he or she does not have a true relationship with God, but, instead, has idolized God according to his or her own desires and understandings.
The action of idolizing is not often attributed to someone’s development of coming to understand the being of God, but humans are capable of doing so, nonetheless. Usually, idolization is thought of as the process of uplifting an object or person beyond its rightful status, many times placing its importance above God. However, one cannot rightfully suggest that a person is capable of raising God above His status, for He is the highest being in existence. Therefore, this cannot be what I mean by idolizing God.
In ancient pagan tradition, which is still represented in some religions today such as Hinduism, the worshiper would create an image of a god called an idol. This object would be used in order to worship and manipulate the god. Because this image was derived from the human’s mind, it represented the human’s self-projection of his or her desire of what this god might be. This is why God expressly forbids the Hebrews to create any graven images of Him, for God created us in His image, not the other way around. Therefore, humans are guilty of idolizing God when they create within their minds an image of God that pleases their liking instead of coming to understand God as He presents Himself.
Oddly enough, idolizing God has quite a different and almost opposite effect than idolizing any other object or being. The results are not entirely opposite because they are both negative, but for very different reasons. To idolize anything other than God is to raise that thing above its status, and is an injustice to that object. For example, many persons in a relationship, especially a relatively new relationship, will often idolize the other person, expecting the other to be the perfect match according their own desires. As a result, the idolizers will often become unfairly disappointed in the other when they do not act to desired preconceived notions. In fact, this is why many relationships end, even marriages: The person was more in love with an idea of the other than they were with the other.
On the other hand, when a religious person creates God in his or her own mind, the result is not a raising up of God beyond His intended position, but it is to lower God from His status, because human projections always fall short of His glory. While learning of God is an invaluable investment, one cannot presume that his or her knowledge of God produces any sort of relationship. Instead, true relationship should produce greater understanding of God. To enter into this relationship, one need not obtain a particular knowledge of God. Instead one must become submissive to God’s will. Through obedience we fall deeper in love and come to truly know God. Love is expressed not through a self-taught knowledge, but obedience and trust (John 14:15).