My post, "War" began an interesting comment discussion. Reading these always sparks new thoughts for me. Seeing other people's worldviews has been educational. Before, "different" doctrines and ideas seemed very un-important. That changed when a friend brought up a topic that I'd never heard of before.
"God doesn't love everybody," he informed me.
I was shocked! "What about John 3:16?"
Thus began a debate about God. He lent me a book on this idealogy. I decided to read the Bible the whole way through again, and this time keep my eyes open for clues on "what is the real relationship between God and humanity?"
I learned a lot. I still am. But what I've noticed since, is an intriguing connection between our perception of God, and our behavior. Crazy? Not really. It's pretty consistent.
I don't like to step on toes. But here's what I've observed.
There was a nun. As in most denominations, views on God differ. Some believe that we earn our way to heaven by sufferings. These we are to "offer up to god". Behind the fairy tales about this woman, is a different story that most don't know. One that doesn't make sense. Yet does. Those that were in terrible suffering, she left that way, as she believed they then would be saved. She sent all her money to the man she admired most, instead of using it to relieve the suffering she was in contact with. This un-heard story sounds strange. But she was just following her worldview.
Still another view of god. He is a god that planned from the birth of this world, who would be saved - and who wouldn't. Nothing can happen or has happened, that he did not plan to happen, from the start. Only to these random, special ones who are chosen, does this god love and offer salvation. And nothing they do, from the littlest lie to a murder, can change their guarantee to heaven. It all hinges on whether you feel like you're one of those elect. You can't know for sure. But, hoping is the best way to look at it. The others... well, god does not offer them salvation, but um, they like darkness anyway, so god punishes them for that. These cannot do anything to be saved and everything that they do, god planned that they should. This makes Him the most murderous, tyrannical being in the universe. I mean -- every genocide, and act of a serial killer, he planned. Children from families who believe in this god, often reject him. Those that don't - well, they're another story. And I can understand. If that was really the case, I would be very proud. I mean - special me! I'm saved and I can do whatever I want. Whatever you do however, you cannot escape destruction.
Another god, is an indulgent Santa Claus. He will give you anything you want, whether or not it is good for you. This god takes all to heaven. Even though many would be terribly miserable in that pure world above. With this god, your good outweighs your bad. And once you realise that you want god, you are forever secure. Believers in this god, live a careless, wreckless life, for after all their god is too kind to punish them.
There is another god who inspires his adherents to kill 'un-believers', in his name. And if you do, you will be guaranteed immediate entrance to heaven at death. From this belief stems the cause of many suicide bombers and acts of violence.
The character of the individual is highly shaped by their view of God. As He is the highest standard of everything desirable. Reason dicates that one will not be a better person than their highest conception of Good.
Among the confused crowd of these, stands out some. Different from the rest. One of these was George Muller. He personally was responsible for the well-being of ten thousand orphans. Without any charity. There has only been praise for his genuine un-selfishness and kindness in his life. This was a natural outflow from a man that believed in a God of Supreme Love. A God to whom all are equal and precious. He wasn't the only man who lived out a life consisent with the character of a loving God. There was also the apostle Paul. Abraham Lincoln. David Livingstone. And more recently, Brother Andrew. David Gates. Many others too.
As a child, I imagined God to be Someone intimidating, far away, and critical. Such an idea in turn made me very critical of my siblings in their mistakes. But, I don't think that way anymore. As I've taken the challenge, "And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart," (Jeremiah 29:13) I've gotten to know the Father who is the epitome of the world's best daddy. One who truly knows what's best for me, and plans great things for my life. I've gotten to see that He truly "is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The LORD is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works." Psalms 145:7,8
My journey in getting to know God has prompted some personal questions.
Is my behavior Christ-like? If not... am I getting to know the true God?