Though all Christians worship the same God, that doesn’t mean that we all have the same view of God. I believe that every Christian has a unique relationship with God, and due to that (as well as personality/upbringing factors) the way that each of us sees God will be slightly different. Sometimes, people will have a view of God that is not supported by the Bible, but by and large I would say that Christians simply emphasise different characteristics because it is those characteristics that they can relate to best. At the end of the day, it’s all about relationship, and the relationship that every Christian has with God will shape the way they see him.
I always find it hard to analyse something that I do. I’m sure that some of my friends could actually describe the way I view God better than me, but as they’re not writing this blog post, I’m going to try to be as honest as possible to give you an idea of what I mean by these different views of God. I think I find it relatively easy to come to terms with God’s sovereignty, divine will and power. This means that I have never been troubled by some passages in the Bible that others may have struggled with, even those where God appears to be condoning genocide. The passage below is from Revelation 19 and is a pretty good example of one of my favourite passages. The description of Jesus, the warrior, is something that resonates well with me, helping me to illustrate the way that I see God.
“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron sceptre.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.”
The shortcoming of my view of God is definitely in the God of love/emotions/sensitivity department. When I think of God’s love, I think of a very practical love, a love that meets needs in a proactive, obvious way. Take John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life – I read that verse as God identifying that the sinful world needs salvation, and sending Jesus to die as an act of love. If I was going to choose a verse to encapsulate God’s character, it would not necessarily be this one!
While there may or may not be merit in this view of mine, the shortcoming I have is really that I’m not so good with seeing the way that God can emotionally connect with people on a deep, comforting level. The idea of ‘coming into the arms of Jesus’ (most Christians will have heard that, or a variation of that at some point) seems a little odd to me.
This is not to say that I don’t have an emotional relationship with God! As with all relationships, it has to be founded on love. But the kind of love that I see most easily in God is perhaps different to the way that some other people might see it. I know that my view of God is not perfect or complete, but it’s the way that I respond to him. Yeah, I may choose to emphasise different Bible verses to other people, but as long as a view of God does have Bible verses that back it up, I think you’re looking in the right place.
I don’t think that any human can have a full and perfect view of God; he’s just too big and incomprehensible. However, we shouldn’t let that stop us from trying to know him more. God knows us better than we know ourselves; he knows how will we respond to him best. It should not be surprising if different people see him in different ways! But don’t mistake what I’m saying here. All of the perspectives that I’m thinking of are based on Biblical themes. This is not an argument that can be used for saying that all religions are paths to one entity, because I believe that any view that does not hold Jesus as the way, the truth and the life is wrong. I’m talking about a God who relates to people inn true relationship with him, and that relationship can only come through Christ Jesus.
Finally, I believe that there will come a time when everything that is incomplete will fall away (1 Cor. 12:10) and then we won’t need to see God in a certain perspective, because we will finally be able to see him for who he really is, in all his glory.