Do you trust God for what it will get you, or for who He is?
Here is a short story attempting to illustrate the difference between instrumental use and performative use in relation to one’s belief in God. Instrumental use seeks to find the justification for using something. For a person to believe in God simply for instrumental use is idolatry. Performative use does not ask for justification in regards to believing in God, instead it assumes that changes will occur in YOU simply as a result of knowing God and seeks to determine what those changes will be. This is a short story meant to illustrate how knowing God is useful (in a performative sense), not because we can use God, but because of who God is.
JoJo: Hey dad! Does God help us?
Dad: Oh, ya.
JoJo: (while listening JoJo is using a Kleenex) Like this tissue helps me?
Dad: Well, no.
JoJo: Like, these sunglasses help me? (Jojo has sunglasses on looking at the Sun)
Dad: Not, quite.
JoJo: Oh, I’ve got it! God is like my shoes! (points to his smelly used shoes)
Dad: Hmm…I think we should start over.
Dad: Well, tissues are made in a factory.
Dad: Sunglasses are only good when it’s sunny.
Dad: And shoes get smelly and wear out.
JoJo: So God wasn’t made?
Dad: Nope, He’s eternal.
JoJo: And, God isn’t just good some of the time?
Dad: All the time
JoJo: And, God doesn’t wear out?
Dad: And, He is not smelly. (while smiling)
Dad: Let me ask you this, what do you think would happen if you knew someone who is eternal, good all the time, and He never wears out?
JoJo: Hmm. I don’t know.
Dad: What I mean to say, JoJo, is that God is worth knowing simply because he is God. Not because He is helpful.
Dad: Ya, Joe?
JoJo: It doesn’t sound like God is a thing I can use to help myself.
Dad: No? What does it sound like, buddy?
JoJo: It sounds like knowing God would probably change, me.
Dad: It does.
JoJo: Hey dad?
JoJo: Tomorrow, can you tell me how we can know something so great?
JoJo: Wanna play legos?
Dad: You bet, buddy.
“The sovereign God wants to be loved for Himself and honored for Himself, but that is only part of what He wants. The other part is that He wants us to know that when we have Him we have everything – we have all the rest.” — A. W. Tozer
Joey Turner is a local resident and guest columnist.