Does it matter what you believe about God? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Everyone has a worldview. Many of us are not aware of it. A worldview is your answer to the biggest questions in life. When you receive information, it is filtered through your worldview. It is possible to change the answers to the big questions, but depending on how central they are to your worldview, it will take that much more to change them.
The late Christian philosopher Ron Nash gave a list of five questions for a worldview. These are all excellent questions I think to summarize what we believe.
God is first. Does He exist? How many gods are there if they exist? Is God reality or something else? What is the nature of this God or gods that are believed in?
What is the nature of the cosmos? Is it eternal? Is it something made by a greater power? Is it real?
What is the nature of morality? Are there true objective statements of morality? Is morality up to the individual? How is morality known?
What is the nature of man? Does man have a soul? Is he an accident? Is he in the image of God? Is he God?
What is the nature of the afterlife? What happens when we die? We cease to exist? We become gods or angels? Heaven or Hell? Nirvana? Reincarnation?
These are all good questions and volumes have been written on each. I’d like to dabble a little bit at the first question. What does it matter what you believe about God?
Let’s start with the simple question of existence. Do you believe that something exists, something a group like AA would call a higher power? If so, how important is this power to you? How do you know? Picture that you are presented with undeniable proof that this higher power does not exist. How much does that change your worldview? The degree to which it changes shows how much place is given to your higher power.
For instance, if you just lose emotional comfort and personal help, well that’s all God is to you. He’s an emotional comfort and personal helper. If you lose a ground of all being and an explanation for all that is, then God is that much central to you. This is a good time to ask yourself this question. “What do I really believe about God and how central is He to what I believe?”
Something amazing about our time is that we don’t really think about God. We know so much about our favorite sports team, a video game, a TV show, a movie, but how much do we think about God? Does God not merit more attention than our favorite hobbies?
Much of Christian suffering today I think can come from bad thinking about God. One pictures God as a tyrant perhaps demanding perfection and being willing to strike us down for our sins. One pictures God as an emotional band-aid which is helpful when you’re hurting, but what happens when He doesn’t come through one time? Does God suddenly not care?
Does it matter that in much of Christian thinking God doesn’t change? You bet it does. If God loves us and is love, then He eternally loves us. We can rest assured in Him.
Speaking of love, what do we mean if we say that God is love? Is God warm sentiment? Is this love romantic love like one has for a spouse or other significant other? Does He love us for who He is or for who we are?
What about classical attributes of God? Is He omnipotent or omniscient or omnipresent or omnibenevolent? Are those terms you’re not used to? What do they mean? Is it not worth considering?
If you were to marry someone, you would want to know something about who they are first. After all, this is the person you’re going to be hopping into bed with. You are going to be sharing your own body with them and your very life with them. Should you not know who they are?
I encourage Christians to really think about God and do so with more than just your experience. Inform yourself with Scripture, but also with those who have gone before and great minds today. J.I. Packer’s Knowing God is an excellent place to go to for instance.
Good theology is extremely important for Christians to have. God is a person (Or rather tri-personal) and needs to be known for who He is. A deficit in our knowledge of God can only hurt us and we will replace truths of God with falsehoods that our own minds come up with. Naturally, we all believe some wrong things about God, but it is important that we try to eliminate those beliefs that are false.
Naturally, Christians have one other area. How has God revealed Himself? Our best answer is that the greatest revelation is in Jesus Christ. What does Jesus tell us about God? What does it mean that Jesus is fully God and fully man? What does it matter that He died and rose again bodily? Is it just a free trip to Heaven or a proof that Christianity is true?
I really encourage Christians to think about these questions. I have not attempted to really answer them here. It’s more important at this point to know that they’re there and they need to be taken seriously. If you have time to learn about your favorite hobbies but not about God, you really need to get your priorities straight.