What is Your God Like?


Roy Lobenhofer

I believe visions of God are different for each of us. While I consider myself a Christian, I cringe at some of the things I see attributed to other Christians. If they believe they are doing God’s work, I know their God is different from mine.

There’re all sorts of books telling who/what God is. For me, the Bible is the prime example. Even with all that information, or maybe because of it, I believe everyone has their own picture of what God is like. Is your God the one of the Old Testament where he asks a man to kill his son? Or, is your God the one from the New Testament saying something like, “You who is without sin cast the first stone”? My guess would be your God is not solely the New Testament or the Old. It most likely is a little mixture of both with your own logic mixed in. After all, I believe God also gave us free will and minds to help us decipher what he has created.

Of course, there are many people in this world who haven’t read the Bible, but who still have a vision of what God is. I don’t have much experience with such people, but I’m willing to bet some of what they believe is from what they’ve read in other works or they have been told, but I believe the majority comes from what they feel.

In all honesty, I don’t think many of us spend much time thinking about what our God is like. God is just God. As I push toward being 8 decades old and am still lost on many, many things, I think it might be time to look at my God to see what my God is really like. Hopefully this will help others think about what their God is like.

Before going into what my God is like, I should address some comments to those dear friends of mine who believe all that is needed is the Bible. Unfortunately, I cannot believe the Bible was written by God. I believe it was written by men who were deeply motivated and believed what they wrote; however, there are too many contradictions for me to accept God wrote it. I believe the writers tried to explain things attributed to their God in ways they could understand.

Don’t misunderstand my lack of belief in the Bible being from the literal hand of God as my believing science has all the answers. I’m old enough to know science as we know it is different from science of years ago (from what I understand science now says the world is not flat), and I’d be amazed if some of the things science says are true now aren’t proved wrong in years to come. To my way of thinking science is merely trying to explain the wonders of God’s creation.

My impression of the Bible is it talks about different Gods in the Old and New Testaments; therefore, the Bible doesn’t stand alone for me. If there is one thing my God is, it is consistent. My God was the same 5000 years ago, as today, as 5000 years from now. What is right doesn’t change with time. According to society it does, but I don’t believe it does for my God.

My vision of God was affected in some part by my growing up without a father. (No, I’m not blaming my father for my failures. I gave up blaming him for stuff a long time ago. I’m sure he was doing the best he could with what he had to work with at the time, just as I’m now trying to do.) That being said, I must confess the Lord’s Prayer took on a different meaning for me when I became a father. Initially I felt “Our Father which art in Heaven” was exactly like my father – somewhere else, not where I was. Once we had our sons it took on a different perspective.

Of course, becoming a father gave me some insight into fatherly love, albeit imperfect. Sure, I’d get angry with my sons for things they did, after all I’m far from being God (and so were they). In the end, I’d forgive everything (they didn’t do anything terrible) but I could easily picture a Heavenly Father not getting mad in the first place and forgiving far more than I ever had to do.

My God is loving, all-wise, all-knowing and all-powerful. I firmly believe there is nothing that can’t be done by my God, and everything is known by my God. Those beliefs bring about some problems. The first problem an all-knowing, all-powerful God brings is the value of prayer. If we are in a situation we don’t like, doesn’t praying for help say something like, “God you don’t know what is happening to me, please help.” In my mind, an all-knowing God definitely knows the situation I’m in; therefore, I can’t pray like that. Or perhaps the prayer is saying, “God you didn’t know what you were doing when you put me in this situation. So, please change it.” I don’t think I have to expound on why I can’t pray that way. I feel praying to an all-knowing, all-powerful God for help is insulting to God.

Of course, we could pray to God extolling His/Her creation and giving thanks for the many gifts given to us. My God doesn’t need ego stroking. What’s the point? The all-powerful, all-knowing God knows how much we appreciate the creation. I believe God would rather have me doing something to get us closer to where we should be than mouthing platitudes of how great He/She is. (Yes, my God is genderless; however, to make this a little less unreadable, I am going to use the masculine because that’s the way I grew up and what I am use to.)

Another problem arising from my beliefs is the value of church services. In my opinion, much of the church service is spent telling God how great He is and/or asking Him to make things better. In other words, these are the same problems I have with prayer. The possible exception is the sermon which can provide motivations to get out and do something to get us to where God wants us to be.

Some question how an all-powerful, all-knowing, loving God can allow the bad things we see in the newspaper each day to happen. I’m not sure why, but this has never been a big issue for me. In my mind, God determined the way the world runs, and it must be good even though I hate it at times.

One of the things that came to me as I was considering my God being “father like” was the concept of time and pain. It struck me as a father I had, at times, deliberately had my sons hurt. Before anyone tries to turn me into children services, it was over forty years ago, and the pain I deliberately inflicted on them were shots administered by a doctor. While the doctor/nurse said it would be a little pinch, we all know it does hurt! As a father, I was willing to subject my sons to the pain because I knew the little pain was beneficial over the long run.

Other times there were pains my sons went through I wish I could have helped them avoid, but I’m not God. Some of those pains actually turned out beneficial for them even to my eyes. If God allows his children to go through pain (He could prevent it if He chose to), I have to assume some greater benefit is going to happen because of that child going through the pain. (This rationalization is much easier when someone else is doing the suffering.)

Another rationalization I have regarding the bad things that happen is they aren’t as bad as we think they are. We are infants compared to God. Just as some of the things that were so bad when we were young aren’t in retrospect, what we now see as terrible won’t be. The “little pinch” isn’t remembered by my sons and I can’t even remember the girl’s name who broke my heart in high school. The suffering experienced by Christ gives me some confidence in this belief. God’s Son was scourged and nailed to the cross. From our perspective it’s hard to imagine much worse. I can’t believe God would allow that to happen to His Son if it was as terrible as we perceive.

Another struggle I have with my perception of God being all-loving and all-forgiving is me not believing some people should be forgiven. Of course, I want to be forgiven, but people who do things worse than I do shouldn’t be, but that doesn’t fit all-forgiving God. My rationalization of this is God knows why those people do heinous things and takes that into account to forgive. Fortunately, he also takes into account the reasons why I do some of the things I'm not proud of doing and forgives me as well.

I’m sure there are more nuances of my God showing Him being different from your God, but for the most part that’s what I think my God is like. I hope it gives you something to think about. Maybe you’re like me and would really like to do things that please your God. I believe knowing what my God is like gives me a better chance of knowing what He would like me to do. (Now, if I could only do better at actually doing them, wouldn’t that be great!)

As always I welcome comments!


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