Thoughts On God

Many people like firm policies and procedures. Many areas in life actually need them. This often translates into people imagining that God has firm policies and procedures, which leads to people developing destructive thoughts about God.

First, let’s get this out there. God’s goals never change. Who He is at the core of His being never changes. His attributes never change. But life here on earth is in a constant state of change, so the way He works and relates to us outside of Scripture is always in a state of flux. He does not operate with a policy and procedure manual; He operates through relationships with you, me, and everyone else in creation.

I have read stories of God healing an individual by having the sign of the cross done over them. Others have received healing through the laying on of hands. Still others just feel the presence of God during their quiet prayer time and receive healing. While others never receive the healing they greatly desire. God does not have a set procedure to receive His healing.

The same is true with knowing God. There is no set procedure. A devoted seeker of God will typically go to the Scriptures to learn about God, but God desires more than us just knowing about Him. He wants us to truly know Him. It’s the difference between me being able to tell you facts about Tim Tebow’s life. He was born in the Philippines to missionaries despite doctors recommending that he be aborted, was homeschooled, spent three summers as a missionary in the Philippines, was a high school standout in Florida, went on to become a college star with the Florida Gators, and now plays for the Denver Broncos. But that isn’t knowing Tim Tebow; that’s just me knowing facts about Tim Tebow. If I were able to tell you about that time that Tim and I tossed a football down on the beach while on vacation, went out to eat, and stayed up late talking about a variety of subjects, then that would be knowing Tim Tebow. (That’s just an illustration. I do not know Tim Tebow personally.) There is a difference between knowing about someone and really knowing them.

With all that said, I still don’t want to devalue knowing about God. The ideas that we know about God will influence how we pursue knowing God on a deeper level. If we think that God is uncaring because He let our loved one die, then that will influence how much we trust Him. If we think God is aloof and doesn’t really care about individual people, then that will influence how much we are willing to trust Him and do the bold and daring actions we are called to do. If we think that God isn’t gracious and merciful, that will influence the way we view our own sins and the sins of others.

The attributes that we believe God has or doesn’t have are integral to the way we actually live our lives.

I am heading to Liberia at the end of February to teach at a conference for church leaders and install safe water systems. In the process of writing these sessions, I am realizing how much I rely on knowing my audience when I prepare a message or a lesson. One of the lessons that I have been assigned to give is “Who is God?” In preparing that lesson, I am struck by the fact we must focus on who God is and His attributes. Deceptions are various and ever-changing, but the truth of God remains the same forever. We might learn a defense against the deceptions of today, but those defenses would be meaningless tomorrow when we are faced with new deceptions.

Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32 ESV).

The truth will set us free. Deceptions will do the opposite; they will enslave us.

There is an episode of Mythbusters where they tested a myth that filtering low end vodka through Brita filters would produce top-shelf vodka. They filtered and re-filtered the vodka six times through the Brita filters and took a sample from each filtration. With eight samples (the low end, the six filtrations, and the top-shelf), they then brought in their taste testers. Kari, Mythbusters’ female co-host, totally blew the taste test when she ranked the top-shelf as the second worst and the low-end as the third best. Finally, they got around to Anthony Dias Blue, a vodka expert and the executive director of the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. When he lined up the drinks, he had it completely figured out. He had the order completely right from the low-end being the worst, through all of the various stages of filtration, to the best one being the top-shelf vodka.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that drinking vodka will get you closer to God. Like the vodka expert was to vodka, we need to be with God. If we really know who God is, we will not be deceived by all of the deceptions Satan uses to get us off track. We need to know Him so well that we will not fall prey to all of the tricks that can cause us to lose focus on God and live a wasted life.

Our thoughts about God influence the way we live. Proper thoughts about God, if truly believed, lead to proper living. Through proper living, we can get to really know God rather than just know about Him. Let us not be people tossed by every cultural wave and steered off course by every societal wind. Let us live the life we were destined to live, anchored in the beauty and majesty of who God really is.