I was recently challenged to read a newspaper article in USA Today about findings from a new religious survey conducted by Baylor University. Now, the article was long, but the information was really interesting. One of the main conclusions found by sociologists who studied the results was that how a person views God more accurately predicts that person’s values and politics than things like denomination or political affiliation.
One of the things that struck me when I read through the four different labels used to describe God and how Americans see Him, was that I can’t find one word to accurately convey who He is in my life. I happened to be doing a Bible study this week on Daniel and we were just at the place where King Nebuchadnezzar calls Daniel in to interpret his second dream and although 30 years had passed since Daniel accurately described his first dream, interpreted it, and then Daniel’s 3 friends were thrown into the fiery furnace but not burned and Nebuchadnezzar saw with his own eyes those three guys and one more that was “like the son of God” walking around in the fire but not even a hair of their heads was singed….Nebuchadnezzar still didn’t ‘get it’ when it came to God. He still wanted to think of the Most High God on his own terms, to box Him in and label Him just like the other gods of that day…very sad….and yet don’t we try and do the same thing sometimes? When we label God as this or that to better understand Him in our finite minds?
It’s great that the researchers and sociologists are understanding how people’s view of God powerfully affects everything else about their lives but to me it also should be a wake up call for those of us who seek to know Him as He truly is and to call Him friend to be about the business of sharing about a God who is love and acceptance and forgiveness and justice and peace and so much more, with those who may have a limited view of who God is and what He wants to do in our lives. If someone asked you those questions from the survey or watched the way you live your life, would they label God as Authoritarian, Distant, Benevolent or Critical according to your answers or actions? It’s an interesting thought and maybe a challenge for you and me to live in such a way that someone watching can see an accurate picture, or at least more accurate, of the God of the Universe- Jehovah…who has more facets to His personality and character than I can ever hope to know and understand, but how much faith would I have in a God who was what I made Him to be or one that fit into a little box that I could control?
What about you? How do you see God? Can you label Him with just one word? Does it really describe who He is or just who you can handle Him being? Think about it, because your view of God will impact all the other decisions that you make today and every day…even the secular world agrees with that.