My roommate loves this topic. Of course, it also has value from a past memory. The first time we met, he and his mother and I went to a pizzeria in my old town where we chatted about Christian apologetics and other such topics. I had recently done a debate on the Problem of Evil and so I elaborated on a theory of mine. I call it “The God Who Is There.” I get the name from Francis Schaeffer’s book “He Is There And He Is Not Silent.”
C.S. Lewis told us about how we can come to God with misconceptions of who he is. Now no doubt, all of us come with limitations in our knowledge of God. God alone has perfect knowledge of who God is. However, while our knowledge is limited, we need to be sure that it is true.
Now some of you might be saying, “I affirm all the essentials of the faith. I can quote the Nicene Creed and Chalcedonian Creed backwards! JWs don’t know what to do with me because I am such a strong defender of the deity of Christ and the Trinity. My view of God is correct.”
Not so fast.
I affirm all of those. Definitely. We believe in a God who is triune and we believe in a God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, the God-man. However, I do believe we often have misconceptions of God and those misconceptions will affect the way that we respond to him.
Consider the Problem of Evil. It seems to boil down to “A good God wouldn’t let this happen.” Really? You claim omniscience? The Bible is blunt about reality. Evil happens. You do not see denials of that in Scripture. What do you see? You see that God is not threatened by evil. He is sovereign over it.
For the person who wants to claim there is no good reason for X to happen, well that is what he has to show. Do we Christians have to know the good reason? No. What if we don’t know it? Well they’ve proved we’re ignorant. Not much of a victory there though. Surprise surprise! We’re not omniscient! Thank you for demonstrating that!
If you are dealing with a God who does not know the end from the beginning and does not know how all possible roads could turn out, yeah, you could make the claim that he should do something about evil. However, we are not dealing with that God in Christianity. We are dealing with the God who knows all things, including good reasons to let evil happen though we don’t understand them.
How about your past sins? Which God do you believe in? Do you believe in the God who can forgive sins or the God who keeps a record of them? Guess which one Scripture tells us is there. We see that and know it, but guess which God we usually end up believing. I don’t think I have to tell you. You already know.
Have you ever considered how awesome it would be if you (And I as well) could look at all the garbage in our past and realize “It’s done and forgiven. It will NEVER be used against me.” We serve a God who has done that! The problem is, we don’t usually believe he has. Why? Because we have a misconception about the God who is there and the untruth we’ve accepted about God causes us more suffering than we ought to have.
How about prayer? Do you approach prayer believing in a god who is more like the god in Islam? Is he far away and distant? Are you hoping you’re in the right positions and saying the right words so that you can earn his approval and so that he will actually hear you? Do you believe he really cares about you?
In fact, have you set conditions on your prayers before? Why? Because you don’t think God will do what you want him to do or ask him to do, so you settle in your prayers. Yet I see in Scripture that we are told to ask anything. Now we don’t ask for immoral things of course, but we should realize that God is big enough to do amazing things in our lives.
In fact, do we have the right perception of him in another way? Sometimes we think him too distant. Other times, we think of him as too weak. I think a lot of this has been with the idea of God as our best friend. I have recently written about this in a blog found here called “Buddy Jesus.”
We have made him too approachable at times instead of forgetting what Habakkuk said. In Habakkuk 2:20 we hear “But the Lord is in his holy temple. Let all the Earth be silent before him.” We are told to boldly approach the throne of grace, but too often we treat that throne like it’s a seat at a country club and God is asking us to pull up a chair and chat.
Friends. I do believe in the grace of God of course. I do believe God cares about us greatly. Let’s never forget something though. God is king! We are to approach him with that in mind. This is the God who holds the universe in the palm of his hand. This is the God that if he drew in his breath, all life would perish. This is the God who could do away with you or I in a second.
Could this be why we don’t think about God as much as we should? I consider myself a theologian. I don’t think about him as much as I should. Why? Because I don’t think he holds us in awe anymore. We’ve reduced him. We’ve wanted to make God so personal that we’ve made him less than what he is. Friends. If he’s not the God of the Bible though, I want no part of him.
A good prayer I’ve found to pray sometimes is to say this when coming to God. “Lord, not as I see you, but as you are, may you be to me.” We too often approach God with preconceptions of what he’s like that we never get to meet the real him. The real God should leave us in awe of who he is and if we are not in awe of God, then maybe it’s time to ask ourselves the question.
“Am I really dealing with the God who is there?”