8 – Conclusion
How can you get God to do things such as I’ve described in the true stories I’ve just related for you? You can’t. At least, if you can, I don’t know how. I think of them as being sovereign works of our Heavenly Father. As my Father, He is the Initiator, the Leader. I look to Him to initiate, to lead. I have a frame of mind to follow Him, to obey Him. I ask for His leadership in small things as well as in the greater things of life. And, when I’m aware of His leading, I thank Him. In following Him, I think it necessary that we relate to the real Him, not some idea we’ve formed from our past and the people we’ve known.
There are many factors that help to form our idea of God. The kind of man our fathers are, the teachings of our church and the norms of the society in which we live are some of them. I’d venture to say that most of us have a distorted view of Him. I suggest that you go to Him in prayer and ask Him to let you get to know Him as He is. Of course, you won’t get to know Him thoroughly. He’s beyond human comprehension. But I think it is reasonable to request that what we do know of Him be accurate. When you read your Bible, look for things that He says and does, as well as what is said about Him, to help to increase your comprehension. But read prayerfully. Ask for correction, where needed. If you read to confirm a preexisting idea, that idea will be confirmed. If your idea is accurate, well and good. But, if it’s not, your error will be confirmed. This is what you want to avoid.
What is the one thing that God could not create? Some years ago, I wrote a computer program to entertain the kids in my neighborhood. It asked the child to enter his or her name. Then it went into a loop displaying sentences in random places on the screen: “I love you, Linda.” “You are pretty cool, Linda.” And so forth. The children were thrilled to see their names together with the sentiments expressed. But the fact is that the machine cared nothing for any of them. It had been programmed to build the sentences and to regurgitate them. If God had created us to love Him, we would have been like that computer. God cannot create a friend. He cannot make anything that is programmed to love Him and have that “love” mean anything. All He can do is to create beings with the capability of loving Him, but the choice to love must be ours. If we don’t choose to love Him, He will not be loved by us and there’s nothing He can do to “make” us love Him. Our natural tendency is to love ourselves, not Him.
The essence of Christianity is that God wants to be reconciled to each of us through the atoning death of our Lord Jesus Christ. This reconciliation establishes us in a love relationship with Him. We become His children. One of the things that governs a relationship is the set of rules that define it. Think over the rules that govern your faith walk. Ask yourself what a given rule that you accept tells you about Him. Is the answer consistent with whatever else you know about Him? Here’s an example:
I once knew a priest who stated that God favored his church because he used beeswax candles rather than those made of paraffin like other churches. What kind of person does he imagine God to be? If you had two children who, on different occasions, served a candlelight meal in your honor, how important would it be to you what the candles were made of?
Are the rules that govern, and help define, who you are as a Christian rules that are found in Scripture or are they rules that you or your church have made up? There is nothing wrong with having your own rules as long as you know that they are your rules and that you don’t attempt to replace God’s with yours. One of the complaints that our Lord had with the Pharisees is that they kept the rules that they had made up, but ignored those that God had given.
Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”1 A man from Northern Ireland (Ulster) told me that his pastor had told his congregation that those on the “other side” were their brothers. But, the pastor added, “Defend your faith.” If this pastor was speaking for God, affirming that He is the Father of both the Catholics and Protestants, and knowing that his admonition would result in hatred and murder, what does this tell you about the concept of God held by him and those who followed him?
My point is that, in cultivating our relationship with God, we will do so in accordance with our view of the kind of Person that He is. Let us pray that our understanding of Him be enlightened by the Holy Spirit so that we may have a real relationship with the real God.