What You Believe About God
Speaker: Dr. Harold J. Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living | You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. Matthew 22:29
What you believe about God profoundly affects your daily life. It affects your marriage, your morality, and your mission in life. What you believe about God also relates to how you think of yourself, what you do and how you behave. Yet in many cases what we believe about God is a hodge-podge of ideas and perceptions, many of which are formed in childhood, sometimes reinforced by our personal experiences, both good and bad. Not really understanding who God is, we tend to blame Him for our own failures and the often harsh consequences of living in an imperfect broken world.
At times what we believe about God is shaped by our environment, yet much of what we believe about God is filtered through our personal experiences. In other words, we tend to interpret God by the events of our lives, rather than interpret our lives and our world and what happens to us through an understanding of who God really is.
The end result is a distorted, often unclear picture of the God so clearly revealed in the pages of the Bible. Based upon the thousands of letters which come to us at Guidelines, I’ve come to believe that four major misconceptions exist which often cloud a true understanding of God. First–many think of God as an angry God who always takes revenge on wrongdoing. When difficulty comes in life, we then tend to think of it as the judgment or punishment which God inflicts on us. Sarah was like that. As a little girl, her mother would tell her, “If you are bad, God’s going to get you!” When her baby died, she knew it was the punishment of God for having conceived the baby out of wedlock. When a flood destroyed the basement apartment in which she lived, again thought it was the hand of God raised in retribution. Those who live with this concept always hide in a closet of fear, running in anger or defiance, hoping to avoid the ultimate punishment which they fear is coming.
Others see God as a loving but weak God, wishing He could deliver us from the harsh blows that bring tears to our eyes and pain to our hearts, but lacking the power to change things in our lives. They see God as gracious and kind but impotent. For this reason, babies die and death snatches lovers from our arms. We pray about getting ahead and nothing happens, so we assume that either God can’t, or else is too disinterested, to help. I’m thinking of a young woman who wrote several letters, each of which outlined her prayer request for a large sum of money. With each new letter her frustration built, her faith growing dimmer in God’s ability to provide.
A third group of people think of God as a distant Father–too old, or too disinterested to be involved in the affairs of six billion people. And still others think of God as an impersonal force or power lacking the attributes of personality and volition.
I mentioned earlier that wrong impressions of God are the result of interpreting Him through the events and perceptions of life, rather than interpreting life and our experiences through a proper understanding of God. So the question then arises: “How do we really gain a true understanding of who God is?” There is an answer. Go to the book! Go to the source of truth, the original document–the Bible.
We first got off the track when we based our concept of God on what people said about Him—good people, too, but they had gone wrong when they got the facts incorrectly. Get it straight for yourself. You’ll forever be glad you did.
Resource reading: Isaiah 40:12-41.