“Believe in God? Which One?”

God-234x300Okay, you believe in God. That’s all well and good, but which God do you actually believe in? Is it the ‘fire and brimstone,’ jealous, tempestuous God of the Old Testament or the benevolent and merciful, God of second chances, of the New Testament? Although  They are One and the same, how you envision God speaks volumes about you as a person. A recent study published in the journal Psychology of Religion, shows that there is a direct link between your view of God and your willingness to cheat on exams. It seems that those who believe in a forgiving God of second chances are more likely to cheat than those who believe in an angry, mean God.  Go figure.

There are approximately 95% of Americans who believe in God, but conceive him a variety of different ways. About 28%  believe in an authoritarian, judgmental God, who is actively involved in our lives and the world at large. 22%  believe in a big-hearted, benevolent God  who is also actively involved but loves and forgives us despite our shortcomings, the God of second chances. Another 21%  perceive God as an inactive observer and bookkeeper who records each and every one of our misdeeds, a God who will sit in judgment in the afterlife. The remaining 24% of believers see God as the Creator who set the universe in motion, but does not play an active role in our everyday lives. So what we really have here are only two groups, those who fear God and those who don’t. One group of believers who will cheat when given the opportunity because they know God will forgive them and a second group of believers who won’t cheat because they fear the wrath of their judgmental, bookkeeping God. Very interesting.

john_3_3But I wonder, does it end at simply cheating on a test or does it cover more territory? The implication are there. If a person would cheat on a test he would probably be willing to do even more devious things right? Why not? The God of second chances is a forgiving God.  Therein lies the problem, The God of second chances will always forgive. I have issues with that. I can’t tell you how many self proclaimed ‘Born Again’ Christians I have interacted with in the last thirty years  who used the “God  will forgive me” line as their personal “Stay out of hell” holy card. Every time they’d do wrong I’d hear “it’s okay, God loves me and forgives me whenever I backslide.” I always liked that term ‘backslide,” it’s such a quaint  way to describe a lapse of judgement, a subtle way to describe sin. I always wondered how many times a ‘Born Again’ believed he was allowed to backslide. I knew plenty who did it on a near daily basis. Is God’s forgiveness endless? Can a person go on sinning again and again and say “I’m sorry God” and all is well again? Somehow I don’t think that’s how it works.

I personally believe in a loving and forgiving God who is active in our lives. A God  who wants each  and every one of us to seek Him and develop a personal relationship with Him built on love and trust. I also believe He is a patient God, but He has His limits. I think in time His patience wears thin. You can’t continue living a life of sin and believe you are forgiven. The expectation is that you will make every effort to change your way of life because God is loving and forgiving not continue backsliding because He is loving and forgiving. My God is the God of second chances, but beyond that you may be taking your afterlife into your own hands…

Just a Thought…

JS

“Monty Pythons image of God”

 

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One Response to “Believe in God? Which One?”

  1. Paul McCully says:

    Good stuff ! The born again thing is interesting as well. To me being reborn is dropping the old nature and receiving a new nature which is Christ like. I remember going to an Agape group meeting at Citrus college. All of us young people were there and the preacher was saying we need to be born again. He pointed out all the sins that we may have done, to repent and be reborn. I couldn’t argue with what he was saying because if I was honest with myself I was guilty as charged. So when he said come down to be born again to the suprise of some of my college friends, I went down. After that, all these young church people came up to me and were welcoming me into their fold. I don’t know how to explain this but I didn’t get caught up with all the emotional stuff I just was like observing everything from a distance in myself, sort of like when you go to a party late and everybodys drunk and you feel distant from them, because your mind is closer to reality. I didn’t know it at the time but I was learning the difference between emotionality and spirituality. There is some emotion envolved in spirituality but some people have an emotional experience and presume it was spiritual. Church services for example, with alot of music and emotional preachers, getting people drawn into an emotional high or low (sinner needing to be born again). So people thinking they have been born again leave church with a different perspective on life, but come to find out their nature hasn’t changed. They try to be good but inside they still want to do bad things and of course will soon fail. I belive the first thing one must do before they are truely reborn is to see that of yourself you can nothing. That if you are trying to save yourself then your not asking Jesus to. Rather then making excuses for our sins and say I’ve been reborn so God will forgive me. One should truely see their sinful natures and admit that they are failing, and that maybe they weren’t really reborn the way Christ was meaning. At that point there is a chance of true repentance. I have learned in my life when I am truly sorry for sins that I have commited I never do them again nor do I have the desire to. That is the sign of my old nature changing and the hope of one day to be truley reborn. Thanks again JS for your thoughtful insights.

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