WHAT TYPE OF GOD DO YOU BELIEVE IN? By Stephen J Mattson

the cross

photo courtesy of Billy Graham Ministries

Reblogged from Stephen J Mattson

Sometimes it’s hard to blame people for rejecting God, because many Christians present a God that is ugly, cruel, unfair, and utterly horrific. Thus, when people avoid Christianity, they’re actually shunning their ugly perception of it.

When you hear people talk about God, what type of God are you imagining? When you speak of God, what type of God are you communicating?

Unfortunately, society’s obsession with success, politics, business, security, wealth, and comfort has hijacked the way we see and interpret God — even Christians are guilty of this. 

It’s easy to manipulate God to fit our own agendas, to use religion to rationalize our actions, to wield spirituality as a weapon, and manipulate theology to rationalize our sins.

We constantly receive mixed messages about who God is and isn’t. But my opinion of God is often very different than “Christian” cultural opinions of God.

For example:

I don’t believe in a God who would torture people for the sake of national security.
I believe in a God who would heal others for the sake of eternal security.

I don’t believe in a God who would cause pain in order to obtain information.

I believe in a God who heals and brings supernatural comfort.

I don’t believe in a God who would defend the death penalty.

I believe in a God who gives, sustains, and promotes life.

I don’t believe in a God who would destroy the environment for the sake of a profit.

I believe in a God who passionately preserves all of God’s creation.

I don’t believe in a God who would treat animals poorly.

I believe in a God who loves all living things, keeping his eye constantly on the sparrows.

I don’t believe in a God who would arrest the homeless.

I believe in a God who empowers and protects the poor, who blesses the downtrodden.

I don’t believe in a God who forcibly deports refugees and immigrants.

I believe in a God who hospitably welcomes travelers, generously cares for refugees, openly accepts the lost, and provides sanctuary for the displaced.

I don’t believe in a God who would support political corruption.

I believe in a God who promotes justice, honesty, and truth.

I don’t believe in a God who uses legislation to gain power, control, and influence.

I believe in a God who abandons laws in order to free people from guilt, shame, and legalism.

I don’t believe in a God who values obscene wealth.

I believe in a God who esteems moral and spiritual character over economic worth — who blesses the poor.

I don’t believe in a God who is quick to violence, destruction, and war.

I believe in a God who values peace — who refers to God’s self as the Prince of Peace.

I don’t believe in a God who selfishly hoards.

I believe in a God who sacrificially gives.

I don’t believe in a God who hates.

I believe in a God who loves.

What type of God do you believe in; do your friends believe in; do your coworkers believe in; does your family believe in; does your church believe in; does your school believe in; does your community believe in; does your government believe in; does your society believe in; does your country believe in?

They’re probably very different, and yet each claims to hold the moral high ground — supported by scripture, prayer, and the blessings of religious authorities.

So how do we proceed through the entanglement of conflicting views and doctrines about God?

Ultimately, we must do our best to follow Christ’s example, selflessly loving our neighbors as ourselves — believing in the hope that God’s grace covers our inadequacies. 

This post is currently being published on Sojourners here.

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3 thoughts on “WHAT TYPE OF GOD DO YOU BELIEVE IN? By Stephen J Mattson

  1. First, let me say that this reply to Stephen is not meant to be harsh but probably will come across that way. So let me apologize in advance if there are hard feelings.
    I am sympathetic to your notions found here but I think you are engaging in what you are criticizing.

    “It’s easy to manipulate God to fit our own agendas, to use religion to rationalize our actions, to wield spirituality as a weapon, and manipulate theology to rationalize our sins.”

    You make the attempt of deflecting when you state

    “What type of God do you believe in; do your friends believe in;……………………………………………………..
    They’re probably very different, and yet each claims to hold the moral high ground — supported by scripture, prayer, and the blessings of religious authorities.”

    You are trying to insulate yourself from criticism by insinuating that all our beliefs are of equal merit when you don’t really believe that and nor do I and they are not.

    So if we agree that scripture offers us insight into God and facts of history then it seems the God you believe is only half the God that scripture demonstrates.

    First, to state the obvious, I don’t believe God needs to do any of those things but in fact has killed, tortured, caused pain, sentenced others to death, destroyed the environment, penalizes the willful poor, attacked invading foreigners of His peoples land, promoted His servant to the wealthiest the world has ever known, has been violent, destructive and yes also hated. But, I get your point that you mean that You would not engage in those things and by extension you do not approve of others doing it and rationalize it by suggesting that God does not approve of what you don’t approve of.

    Yes, God is a God of Love and Peace. Yes, He is the God that follows all the good points you have attributed to Him. The scripture tells of God with a much more complicated nature than you give Him credit for.

    Let me ask the question. If we need saving, then what do we need saving from?

    Like

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