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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic

Having the wrong ideas about God can lead to pain and confusion in life. This is a brief treatment of just a few of those bad ideas.


As far as the number of followers goes, Christianity is the largest religion in the world. Sadly, it's also one of the most misunderstood. Of course this is true regarding those who do not follow Christ, but unfortunately it is also true for many of those within it.


It's no surprise that Christianity has gone through many changes since Jesus Christ was actually walking on this earth and not all of that change has been good. Tradition, incorrect information, misunderstanding, pure ignorance, wishful thinking, as well as other things, have got in the way between humanity and God. All of this can make it difficult to find out who God is anymore, this is true of believers and seekers as well.


The good news is we have the solution, God's Word. The bad news is polls repeatedly show how illiterate those who claim to be Christian are when it comes to Scripture. This is a major problem. Much of what Christianity does is teach believers how to live a moral life and spread the Word through community and missions. When we have an inaccurate understanding of God's character our work for Him in these areas, and others, suffer greatly and can hinder our witness.


So how do we fix this? Careful, intimate, educated, contextual reading and study of Scripture will start to uncover misrepresentations about God that have made their way into our thinking. It will reveal things that have been blurred over time. Let me repeat the word “contextual.” The Bible must be understood in context – who is speaking or writing, who is receiving the information, what type of history is taking place at the time, when did it take place, etc – so finding the truth of who God is becomes clear and accurate.


Let's briefly look at 7 bad ideas that people hold about God.


First – We are like God, or vice versa, God is like us.


While it is true we are made in God's image, that is in a limited sense and doesn't mean God is like us. He doesn't think how we think, his feelings are not the same as how we experience feelings, he doesn't act in the ways we act, he exists outside of time.


The Bible sometimes describes things about God using human terms so we can have some kind of understanding of who he is and what he does. These descriptions are know as “anthropomorphisms.” A fancy word for ascribing to God human behavior, and at times physical descriptions although he is spirit.


The truth is God is all powerful, he is transcendent (above and beyond all things), all knowing, or aware of all things, with a perfect knowledge, and everywhere present. God is perfect in all his ways: loving, just, good, in ways we can't understand or even fathom.


God's motives are not human motives so it's very limiting to understand him in only these anthropomorphic terms. It can weaken or lower who he is to us in our minds, and this can lead to us questioning his commands and his ways in the same manner we might question a human leader.


I think once we realize how different, how other, God is while remembering he is always near and always love us and cares for us, faith will be a bit easier to accept.


Second – God is boring and He doesn't want me to have fun.


To the “religious” Christianity seems like nothing more than a list of do's and don'ts. Or if we grew up in a works oriented church, or attend one now, it's easy to get the feeling God is limiting us and removing all of the fun in our lives.


The idea that God is boring and does not want us to have fun is simply untrue. God wants us to be full of joy, God has a sense of humor. In fact, some of the plays on words Jesus' uses are quite funny once you understand them.


Of course God gives us some guidelines in life, but they are for our benefit. If followed they will ultimately result in joy. The direction God gives us in not to limit or diminish our fun, He wants to protect us and wants us to live life to the fullest.


Let's just be honest for a moment. Sin feels good and sin can seem fun...while we are doing it. But what happens when it's over? We are left empty, unsatisfied, unhappy. Let's take what is arguably the most common of sins, sexual sin. Let's make it even more specific, adultery. While the sneaking around and pleasure we feel feeds our depraved nature and we think it's fun, it leads to disaster and the opposite of fun. The result leads to a wave of consequences such as shattered hearts and dreams, depression, health issues, financial struggles, pain, broken families, damaged children, etc.


God wants us to have fun and enjoy life! Just look at Ecclesiastes 2:24, “There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God” (ESV). Later in the same book, 8:15, “And I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun” (ESV). This sentiment is found often in Ecclesiastes. Just a couple more from Proverbs: 15:13a, “A happy heart makes the face cheerful...” and Proverbs 17:22a, “A joyful heart is good medicine...”.


So, be sure not to pass up on the fun life has to offer. Don't think you can't have fun because God is not fun. It's because of God that we are able to find enjoyment, fun and fulfillment in life.


Third – God will take away all my problems.


This idea is completely foreign to Scripture, yet it has made it's way into the Church deceiving many through the Prosperity Gospel proponents and Word Faith movement. These “ministries” have done more damage inside the Church than any enemy from the outside has managed to pull off. They have made their way inside, and that is cause for alarm. It's an alluring concept, God taking away our problems and blessing us financially and physically, it's attractive but it's also a lie.


2 Peter 2:1, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring destructive heresies...” (ESV, emphasis added).


2 Corinthians 11:13, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ” (ESV, emphasis added).


Jude 4, “For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God...” (ESV).


These leaders treat God as a cosmic genie in a bottle. “Give us your tithes and offerings and God will multiply ten fold what you give,” “place your money in the offering and you will be blessed with a new car,” “give and it will be given to you, if you give your money faithfully you will be physically healed,” and the list goes on.


Having the mindset that God will solve all your problems is one of the surest ways to find yourself losing your faith in the end. When the problems aren't solved, the blessings don't come, one who thinks this way will blame God.


The truth of the matter is this: God never promises us happiness, there are no New Testament assurances of health or wealth in this life. Our blessings, our treasures lie in heaven and eternity and this is precisely what Christ told us in the Sermon on the Mount. In fact, the Bible promises that tribulation, struggle, and difficulties will come to us in this life, especially if we follow Him – you can find this from the start in the book of Genesis.


We are promised happiness, rewards, perfect healing, no tears or sorrow, but not in this life. These promises are fulfilled in the New Heavens and New Earth where we will live with God for eternity without the curse of sin.


So keep your focus where it should be which is on God, on Scripture, loving the Lord with all your heart soul, mind, and strength, and loving your neighbor. Be faithful in your walk with God and true to His Word regardless of what takes place in this life.


Fourth – God is male.


I won't spend too much time on this one but it is certainly important enough to touch on. Clearly the Bible uses male pronouns for God all throughout. It is also true we are taught in Scripture to address Him in prayer as “Father.” Also notable is when He, as the Second Person of the Trinity, took on human form He was most definitely a man. Jesus repeatedly addressed God as Father. All of this is true and important and significant. However, but just as we need to be cautious when attributing overly human motivations to an absolute sovereign and infinite Being, we should remember God is Spirit and as such does not have a gender.


As we see in Genesis, God created humanity in His image, He created both male and female in His image. Women were made in the image of God just as much as men. God has attributes of both. For example, in Matthew 23:37 we see a desire that His people be gathered “like a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.” In Hosea 13:8 God is compared to a protective mother bear and in Isaiah 66:12 to a mother comforting her child.


Just remember God is Spirit, he has attributes both male and female. From this God is able to be everything we need, so don't be surprised if you feel God loving you in the way a protective, comforting mother does. However, respect Scripture and how we are to address God as we worship and pray to Him.


Fifth – I know precisely what it is that God wants.


An over zealous certainty that we know the will of God is often a display of nothing but pride. Thinking this way brings the danger of feeling we can do whatever we want in His name, no matter how selfish or sinful, and feeling we can tell others what to do in His name. Both are very harmful.


“God told me to tell you,” “God told me,” and similar sentiments are often spoken by people who fall into this category. This position can also result from wrongfully ascribing human motivations and behavior to God. It can also be a result of reading Scripture poorly only seeing what the want to see within God's Word, shutting off of the mind (consciously or subconsciously) to other points of view and legitimate positions held.


Often times people who fall into this error use passages to justify their sin like condescension toward others, authoritarianism, hypocritical judgments, etc. At an absolute minimum it results in believers who don't properly understand the Bible or God's path for their lives.


The Bible tells us to remain teachable, absolute certainty stops us from being teachable. Of course we have essentials of the faithclearly spelled out in Scripture, but that's not what is being addressed here. We should always be open to grow in our knowledge of God and Scripture. Studying Scripture carefully and properly, listening to those preaching in authority above us, finding spiritual mentors, and being willing to at least entertain thoughts new to us can all help.


Keep a teachable spirit.


Proverbs 9:9, “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser, teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning” (ESV).


Proverbs 12:1, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid” (ESV).


Sixth – God is a Republican/Democrat/Libertarian, etc.


For many, if not most, politics can be extremely polarizing. I know, surprise! I admit it's easy to fall into the pattern of thinking that God favors one political party over another, but this reasoning is mistaken. God is not a Republican nor a Democrat. God is God. All political parties are flawed, not a single one can live up to God's standards. Blind and unquestioning loyalty to any one party, thinking God supports that party, will result in blind allegiance to the leaders of that party.


Instead of voting out of loyalty to a political party we need to vote in accordance with our loyalty to God. Research the worldview of individual candidates, check into their morals and authenticity, which one most closely aligns with the ways of God?


I bring this up because politics, especially in our current situation, can be a very divisive issue among brothers and sisters in Christ. The two most important commandments, according to Jesus himself, are loving God and loving our neighbor. When it comes time to vote often times the second gets ignored. Let's try not to let this happen, it's a horrible witness to unbelievers. God does not support a political party, He supports truth, righteousness and love.


Seventh – God can't exist because there is so much suffering everywhere.


It can be difficult to reconcile the existence of a loving, all powerful God when so much suffering and evil exist in the world. It's one of the most asked questions of unbelievers and one of the major points raised when debating atheists. Think about it, God could have prevented the slaughter of numerous Jews in the Holocaust, why didn't He? Why doesn't He heal terminally ill infants and children? Why do so many natural disasters kill so any people? How can pedophiles exist if God exists? If God really does exist and He is loving and omnipotent (all powerful), why doesn't he prevent these things from taking place? These questions don't only come from atheists, but believers also think these things and it burdens their hearts keeping them from true intimacy with God. But, there is an answer to this seeming dilemmal.


God allows us to choose. That is the basic answer. Going back to the Garden of Eden and the tree, God didn't merely allow this test so humans could bring about the fall of creation. Within this test He gave a gift: choice. Adam and Eve had the freedom to obey God's command to not eat of the tree or go their own way and partake of the fruit. Regardless of the circumstances, they gave in to their own desires. This choice brought sin into the world that curses not only human beings but all of creation.


We also have the choice to trust God and live by His commands, which are for our own good and benefit as well as the benefit of making the world more livable and hopefully loving. Or, we can choose to live selfishly. We are truly free in Christ, free to obey and free to disobey.


If God removed all sin and suffering we wouldn't be free, we'd be enslaved. We would be nothing more than robots. He would force us to change our mind at every turn. God doesn't make us to be slaves, He frees us. The fact is we live in a fallen world. As a result of the choice in the Garden, and the result of our decisions, bad things happen. But God still loves us, mistakes and all. He doesn't overtly control us like puppets on a string.


Disclaimer for this section: As a Calvinist I feel just a bit more of an explanation is needed on this point. As for free will, free choice, we deny the existence of such as relates to regeneration. When it comes to salvation, when it comes to being saved, God must draw us and renew our heart. God must intervene leaving no place for man's work or will in coming to Him. Ephesians 2:8a, “For it is by grace we have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is a gift from God...” this gift is the very faith needed in order to be saved. It comes from God not us. However, at the same time we our held responsible for the decisions we make. These ideas don't conflict, but do go beyond full human comprehension. Both are stated clearly in Scripture, so we must acknowledge both and recognize these truths exist together.




Of course there are many other bad ideas and wrong conclusions about God, but time and space prevent an exhaustive treatment. This is just a few ideas with extremely brief responses. My point through this is that getting to know God takes time, trust, humility and a teachable spirit, just as is true of any relationship. However, as we grow closer to God and gain a more accurate understanding of Him and His love, the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) will display themselves in how we live and relate to people.


One of God's main ways of reaching out and touching the world is through us, through you, through His Church. Get to know God accurately and intimately so you can properly be His representative in the here and now.

Submitted: December 23, 2019

© Copyright 2021 TrueGraceMinistries. All rights reserved.

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