When I was young; my parents called themselves Christian, however they very seldom practiced their beliefs and I never remembered them explaining what a Christian is or what they were to believe.
On a few occasions, we (my parents and my siblings) would go to Church with my grandparents. But once again, we (my younger siblings and I) were never told, nor was it ever explained what we were to believe. We were given the idea that there was a God, but who this God is or what we were to believe about this God was never given to us in a clear way that we could understand; they prayed, sang hymns and took communion, but as far as making sure that we understood what all of this was about, they never did! Maybe, they assumed that we were getting our understanding from our parents or somewhere else! So as we grew up, me and my younger siblings; we were raised to believe there is a God (and that by this we were also Christians), however we were ignorant of who he was!
As time went on, I began to form my own belief of who this God was; even though I was given a bible on my eighth birthday, I was never able to get myself past the first few chapters in Genesis. Everytime I got to the begats in chapter 5, I would lose interest and stopped reading.
So I formed my belief outside the pages of the bible; where I looked at life’s experiences and my own opinions to fashion my own version of what God was.
Many of my friends believed in God, but they never shared their beliefs or what they may have learned, whether through their church or what their parents taught them. I no doubt had an awareness of God, but I was pretty much at the mercy of my own imagination as to what to believe or not to believe.
There were times where I was convinced that God was confirming my beliefs and of his presence in my life. Because there were occasions where it appeared to me that God was watching out for me, preventing me from being hurt through my own stupidity, doing things that could have gotten me in great trouble or easily ended my life.
I know that I was not alone in this mistake of fashioning a God of my own making. Even today I meet people who are really unaware of what the scriptures have to say about God and they go about their lives believing in things that are unscriptural and they are sure that their belief system is correct, because of some event that happened in their past.
War veterans are most likely the worse; they lived through terrible battles, while their buddies died. By this they believe God was looking out for them; or they felt God was confirming his presence , (which he may have), but they misunderstood what he was really trying to confirm to them. Rather than it causing them to look to the scriptures to seek out who this God is, they just continued in their false understandings, thinking everything is ok between them and God.
In America, it really doesn’t matter what God or what religion you want to speak about; there is a kind of picking and choosing that takes place within them. What I mean is, we tend to reshape every God of every religion, to fit us; rather than allowing it to reshape us!
Reincarnation as one example: what is taught in America is different from that taught in India, (where Hinduism is the birthplace of reincarnation). Americans don’t like the idea of regression through the cycles of reincarnation, where one may come back as a cricket or some lower life form; due to karma or paying for past sins. Americans prefer progression, where they come back as something better; so they reshape or reinvent reincarnation to fit their own conscience.
Christians do the same thing, much like being at a smorgasbord; where they pick and choose what to believe or what not to believe, they just pick what feels good to them. It’s as if, as long as they believe in God; they think that everything is all ok between them and God, (forgetting that even Satan believes there is a God). Or, that God somehow is still obligated to bless them or respond to them according to their false belief system, simply because they believe there is a God; even though it’s not according to what he has revealed in the scriptures.
“(Matt. 5:45) That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
What most people are ignorant of, is the fact that, God rains on the just and unjust alike; meaning that there are times that God shows his goodness by blessing everyone, whether they are good or not or whether they believe in him or not. It’s in these times that God makes his presence known, not to affirm ones belief system; but, rather to affirm his goodness, with the purpose or hope that, that person will seek him out in the scriptures to really know him as he is and not just what they want him to be.
Because of this act of goodness, some do look into the scriptures to find understanding or to know just who this mysterious presence is that seems to be overshadowing their lives; while others desire to be conveniently ignorant of the truth. After all, acknowledgment of the truth would require something from them that they really don’t want to give God! And, truth would require them to step into the light or to know for a fact, that they are rejecting the light!
Many just don’t want the responsibility that comes with knowing the truth of who God really is or what is contained within the scriptures. For some it seem better to remain ignorant so they can feel free to invent a God that will allow them to do whatever they feel is right in their own eyes. Which most of the time is the ability to sin without any responsibility for their actions or some kind of judgment, due to their immorality.
After all, if you can invent and control your own God, then you can define your own sense of morality; (With its own rewards or lack of judgment).
God’s (The True God) grace or his promises are based on the truth of who he is, not on what we think God should be like. The God that I invented, he could not produce the promises of the Bible into my life, (because he was not the God of the bible), nor could he extend the grace that is found within its pages. This God, (which I invented) only existed in my imagination; therefore he was in all actuality, powerless!
Many find themselves in the same position as I was in; claiming to have God or a god in their lives, but nothing to back it up, because their (imaginary) God is just as fictitious/factitious and as powerless as mine was. Or, they try to hold onto the one true God, without true understanding, (being ignorant of who he really is); as they based their beliefs on their own imaginations or the hearsay of others and not based on the actual truth of the scriptures.
“Psa 78:41 Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.”
God is all-powerful, but there are times that God limits his grace in our lives by our actions or by what we believe. Israel limited God by not trusting him; he had so much planned for them, but they couldn’t get past their own imaginations and could not fully trust that he could do what he said he would do.
Therefore, our actions or false belief systems can limit God in our lives; as much as God would desire to bless us, he has put limits on what he will do. That is, if we continue a lifestyle contrary to his word or hold on to false beliefs of who God is, he is not obligated to respond to us.
Unwittingly, many Christians have in their minds a God of their own making; holding onto false doctrines or false beliefs about God. It can be hard for most of us to let go of these false ideas, yet as long as we hold onto them, we may find that we are limiting God by them.
Yes, even the sinner or unbeliever may experience the rain (general blessings) of God from time to time; but those who trust God according to his revealed truth (The Scriptures), will find that God has planned a greater abundance of blessings for them and then they’ll also be in a position to receive them.
The god of my own making could not really promise me eternal life; no, I had to learn to let it go and then I could receive the God of the Bible. Only the God of the Bible and his son Jesus could give me eternal life or any other valid promise. I had to meet him as he is and on his own terms, not mine. Knowing it is he who is the potter and I the clay!