Who is God?

And what makes it worth your while to even find out?

Image by David Cantelli

Welcome, Serendipitous Stranger

Hello! If you have found your way to this page, one of three things is probably true: either you are bouncing around on the internet and became intrigued enough to take a look, you are on this page because you want to make sure that our values align before you continue reading my spiritual posts, or you came here looking for answers because something has sent you on a hunt for the Truth.

I'm not exactly sure how hospitality is supposed to work on the Worldwide Web, but if you can stretch your imagination with me for a moment to think of this website as kind of house that I have built, then please, make yourself at home!

Now, it is incredibly important to establish some common ground when we talk about God. All over the world, people use the word "God" fairly differently. Sometimes, the word "God" can refer to a whole unified pantheon of many gods. In other places, "god" can be used to refer to a physical idol which is believed to connect people to their personal or tribal spirit-gods. And finally, some people use the word ambiguously, expressing that they believe in some cosmic being but are unconcerned or uncertain about the specifics.

So, just to be abundantly clear, I want you to know who it is that I am talking about whenever I say "the God of Love" or "Creator God," or any number of similar titles. I also want you to know what to expect from the SoulFood column of this blog - I know how easy it is to waste hours reading someone's spiritual blog only to find some crazy statement that makes you feel the need to scrub your brain clean of every word they've ever written, and the exasperation this can cause when looking for real answers. Yeah yeah, and we could all just go read a book. We know.

What makes one God worth knowing any more than the rest?

1. Expanse. A God worth worshiping must be more than human beings, and not less. So, a God that appears to be limited to one emotion (anger/hatred or jolliness/mirth), one narrow purpose (such as fertility or wealth or destruction), can be portrayed in one image (such as a statue), or can generally be understood in its entirety with very little contemplation, is simply not big enough. If we were created, then there is a Creator that is bigger, more complex, and more interesting than we are. If this God does not exist, then

while there may be other spiritual entities in existence, our decision to worship them is nothing more than a personal preference, an act of self-protection, or a community bonding activity.

2. Authority and Power. Along the same lines, any lesser God than the Creator would not be in a position to hold mankind morally accountable, and would arguably also not have the power to determine our fate, individually nor collectively. If we are created, then we are accountable to and dependent on our Creator on some level, regardless of all else. If not, then deciding to worship one god or another is nothing more than a crutch to help us limp through the pain of living these essentially worthless lives.

3. Moral Consistency. Many gods are supposedly amoral or act primarily on impulse; they basically look like glorified humans, toying with us lesser beings. Other Gods are outright destructive and indifferent toward the lives of humans. Why waste time looking to serve or understand a God who is clearly unpredictable, or worse, openly evil? Only a God who abides by consistent moral principles in dealing with humanity is worth our efforts. Everything else is just an exercise in spiritual gambling. Who knows what will happen? Let's just roll the dice and find out. Atheists understand this quite well.

4. Intentionality. It's hard to build a relationship with someone who has no feelings or intentions toward you. If God were to set up a mathematical algorithm to make sure that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell (for example), and wasn't personally invested in us, then while it might be worthwhile to try and be good, it wouldn't make much sense to invest in trying to know or serve God. Morality would matter, but it would have nothing to do with God, and God would not care where we landed ourselves in the end. Thus, only a God who values humanity and wants relationship with us is worthy of being pursued. We can only reciprocate whatever it is that God feels toward us, at best. To care more about our Creator than the Creator cares about us would be a serious waste of time.

5. Claim. Most gods do not actually claim to be the Creator God. They do not speak to humanity and say, "look, it's me, your Maker!" Instead, there are stories that describe them in the third person, sometimes having creative powers, sometimes wanting relationship with humanity, sometimes possessing some multidimensionality of character that appears to transcend that of humans, but usually none of these things. Usually, it's chaos. And usually, their interaction with humans is confusing or collateral at best. In fact, only one God has ever claimed to have created humanity AND established all of the above characteristics in a real conversation with mankind. That is the Judaeo-Christo-Muslim God, as described in the Hebrew Scriptures (which are acknowledged in all three traditions).

So, how can we narrow that down a bit? Well, it is also worth noting that most genuine historical figures do not claim to be related to God. Most real people, whose existence is a historical fact and who are often thought to be divine, have actually refused to take on such a lofty title (such as Buddha or Muhammad), and their words claiming their own base humanity are as immortalized as they are. Only one historical person has ever claimed to be the literal Son of God, having come down from heaven with the authority of God to forgive humanity and judge us innocent. That is only Jesus. No one else has even come close to making such shocking statements.

Other historical figures who are compared with Jesus have also never performed miraculous healings and other supernatural acts throughout their years of teaching. Only Jesus. And, none of these other real historical figures were hatefully persecuted to the point of death, but rather died of old age and disease. Only Jesus made and justified this claim of having the power to reconcile mankind to God (forgive sin), and only Jesus came back from the dead to fully prove his power over death (which is the punishment for sin) and to demonstrate God's plan for those who are forgiven (to be resurrected as well, at the appointed time). Jesus is, therefore, the difference between eternal life and eternal death.

The much simpler question that remains:

Since we've now established that only one God is worth pursuing, and only one God claims to be everything worth pursuing, the only thing left to ask: is this God real and true? Because otherwise, we've got nothing much to talk about.

Thankfully, the truth itself is VERY simple: that this God is real, that Jesus is real, and that it matters very much how you respond, because God loves you and DOES want relationship with you. That's all there is.

And thankfully, you don't just have to take my word for it. The more you pursue God, the more he will reveal himself to you. Everything human hands have ever made can only beckon you to find out more for yourself. So continue on this path with me, or don't, but never settle for anything less than the Truth in your life, and you will still find God.

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