Who is God? If we really thought long and hard about this seemingly simple question we would find that those 3 words have actually been the cause for much division and violence in this world. Wars have been fought, with countless lives lost, as both sides believed they were doing the bidding of God. Whole generations have been wiped out because of their definition of who God is. People have been murdered by their peers because their definition of God did not align with others (even if the persecutors and the victim were both of the same religion.) People have full blown left church, left faith, and left any belief that God could exist because Christians have told them that God would not approve of them. People have been told to leave their churches, leave their communities, and even leave their countries all because their version of God is different. It is no wonder there are not many people lined up to jump on the Jesus Christ band wagon. I mean, who could blame them? We have as many versions of Christianity as we have counties in a state. So why does this happen? Why do we put God in a box that we design and try to sell him as “ours?”
When it comes to God this becomes very tricky. If we as Christians are honest with ourselves we really have no idea why God does the things he does. We find ourselves asking, “why does God…” knowing that there is no real answer. We think that God should have to answer to us, but He doesn’t. He’s God. I know that answer is extremely unsettling to people, and I think therein lies the problem. We start trying to use our own judgement and our own finite wisdom to define God into a box. No matter how much we try to conjure that box, though, it doesn’t actually exist. Each denomination and reformation has their version of God that they can’t wait for you to meet (and is the real version if you ask them) but again, it is just an imaginary box that doesn’t actually exist. You see, we don’t define God, God defines us. I’ve gone off on a tangent though and still haven’t really answered the question.
What is it that makes us want to wrap God in a pretty little package and say, “this is God all else is not.” I think for that we can really look at ourselves. If you took 10 of your closest friends, and asked them who they thought you were; they would all probably have their own version of you in their mind. Even if they all knew exactly the same amount about you they would have their own general understanding of who you are, and even still none of them would really know. Why? We base our understanding of others from what we have gathered by observation of people we have met in our past. People who hold more weight in our memory tend to shape out what we see in people in the future. If you’ve spent your whole life very well sheltered you would tend to believe in the decency of people. You would believe that everyone has your best interest at heart. On the other side if you were abused growing up, or you have been in an abusive relationship that rocked you to your core; you will tend to start to believe that people don’t care about you. Even worse you may have a horribly skewed version of what love looks like. The fact of the matter is that those 10 close friends are taking what they know about you and then projecting all of the things they have learned about people to fill in the blanks. So even in their best knowledge of who you are, they still don’t know who you are because they aren’t you. Just like you aren’t God.
We do the exact same thing when it comes to God. We take what we know about God and we project what the world has shown us to fill in the blanks. Here is the thing though. God doesn’t want us filling in the blanks. He doesn’t want us to try to figure it all out. Now, yes, there is a lot of information about who God is in the Bible. When he speaks to his prophets. When he speaks to Abraham or Moses. When he speaks to Adam and Eve. We certainly know enough about who God is throughout the Bible to, at the very least, know who God isn’t. We know that whatever he does is out of love. We may not always understand it, but whatever he chooses to do He does it because He is passionate about his people. At one point his people were only the Israelite people, but then God gave us a living breathing version of himself to exemplify for the world (his new people) who he is.
Anything that we need to know about God we can look to in Jesus Christ. 4 gospels all dedicated to telling us what God was like as He walked the Earth showing us how to love like He loves. He was not picky about who he loved. He didn’t tell people to leave his sight because they had sinned. He welcomed all who believed in Him, and His only guideline was to love him, love our peers, and love even our enemies. I am getting ahead of myself though and about to end up way off topic here.
At the end of the day, if people are trying to fill in blanks about who God is with anything other than clear scriptural reference (and I don’t mean what they think of it, but what it actually says) then I would really stop listening to them. If I have done this, and I am sure I have before (and will do in the future), I would ask you to take it with a grain of salt. We all do it. We all project our understanding of God a little differently, and it isn’t because God is different to each of us. Just like those 10 close friends. You aren’t different to each of them. We just all see things a little differently. We all have an understanding of everything that is a little different than everyone else. We have all put God in a box to help us understand where we are going.
I would encourage you to do your best to stop doing that though. Why? I know I just said its only natural. Here is the thing, when we put God into a box, and then something happens in our lives that doesn’t seem to fit in the box; it blows up in our face. We question why God isn’t fitting in the box. Again, because He is God, and there was never an actual box to begin with. If you’ve taken time to make a box to put God in I guarantee you will open that box to find it empty. Learn to accept that there are things that we know about God and there are things that we don’t. God will spend the rest of your life revealing Himself to you. As your relationship grows with Him, He will show you parts of Him that you need to see. He may even show you things, specifically meant for you, that wont make sense to anyone else. As I say that I feel compelled to follow that up with a caution though. I would encourage you to read my other post, Unreasonable, if you have any questions about things that God may be revealing to you.
God will never fit into your box, and if you are using your little shiny box to beat others with they will never see God themselves, at least not through you. The thing about these boxes is we often start filling them with things that God specifically asked us not to fill them with also. We fill them with contempt. We fill them with judgement. We fill them with rules that God never actually gave us. We start to put these things into the box that we created in order to justify treating people exactly opposite of the way that Jesus asked us to treat them. We try to tell them what God thinks of them. We try to tell others that God will only accept them if they make their box exactly like ours, and this isn’t true either. We weren’t called to be judges of the world. Stop selling your box to others. Introduce them to the things you know about God and don’t be afraid to tell them when you don’t have the answers. It is okay to not always have the answer to a question about who God is, because (as I already said) you are not God so how could you possibly know everything about him? Throw away your box.