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J. Gresham Machen: Valuing God

“We value God solely for the things He can   do; we make of Him a mere means to an ulterior end.  And God refuses to be treated so; such a religion always fails in the hour of need.  If we have regarded religion merely as a means of getting things – even lofty and unselfish things – then when the things that have been gotten are destroyed, our faith will fail.  When loved ones are taken away, when disappointment comes and failure, when noble ambitions are set at naught, then we turn away from God; we have tried religion we say, we have tried prayer, and it has failed.  Of course it has failed!  God is not content to be an instrument in our hand or a servant at our beck and call.  He is not content to minister to the worldly needs of those who care not a bit for Him…Has it ever dawned on us that God is valuable for His own sake, that just as personal communion is the highest thing that we know on earth, so personal communion with God is the sublimest height of all?  If we value God for His own sake, then the loss of other things will draw us closer to Him; we shall then have recourse to Him in time of trouble as to the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.”  (“What is Faith?”)