31 Aug 2012

What Do You Mean by God?

Submitted by Stephen Winters

In reading another article I ran across this question:

"When a theist claims that a god exists, one of the first questions atheists should ask is "what do you mean by 'god'?" Without understanding what the theist means, the atheist simply cannot evaluate the claim. By the same token, unless the theist is very clear about what he means, he cannot adequately explain and defend his beliefs." What is God? Definitions, Characteristics, and Attributes of God"

When we are talking about God, It is fair to ask a question. When you use the term god, what do you mean by that? So here are some of my thoughts.

In one sense, I think that the concept of what God is to be beyond our ability to comprehend. I also realize that just because I believe something about God, or think that God is this or that, I might be totally wrong. I don't think it is possible for any of us to really know what God is like. At best, we each can only "know" a little bit. Also, I don't know if God is a person, in the traditional sense, or a power, etc. so in my description I may switch back and forth between calling God a person or a power. I refer to God as He and Him because that is what I am used to doing (from my Christian background) For the purposes of trying to describe "Him", I don't think it matters. I don't 'think that God gets upset by what we call him.

With those disclaimers, here is my perception of God. I think of God as filling the universe and being intimately connected with everything. He is the originator and the source of everything. He powers everything. There are some verses that say, , "He holds everything together with this power"1  "God is all and in all." You might say that God created all things AND he is the force/glue/magnetism that holds everything together. If you were able to remove God from everything, then everything would dissolve.

"In him we live and move and have our being."2 In a very real sense, I imagine us all walking around in this ocean of air, living, breathing etc. Except I think of God being very much like this ocean of air (except he fills the universe, he is more than the universe.) We walk around in him, and he is in each of us whether we believe he exists or not. There is no place that we can go to escape from God. He is inside us, he see all of our thoughts, he sees our inner motives. Before we even have a thought, a motive, or a desire (good or bad) he is right there to see its beginning and he see how it is played out in our lives.

When this awareness came to me, it became clear to me that the fight inside me was over. There was no point to try to pretend to be anything that I'm not. Just be real, that is where we each find our true selves and where we find (our perception of) God (whatever our beliefs are about God may be). God meets us where we are, we may each experience and view him differently.

God is truth and reality. He is the true spirit of all things. He wants what is best for us. Working unseen he helps us each find our way back to him. I believe that God loves and is working in the lives of the faithful, the believing, the agnostics and the atheist. God is intimately involved with whatever is true in our lives. I don't 'think that God cares whether we call ourselves Christian, Buddist, Muslim, Agnostic, Or Atheist. He just wants us to be real, with no pretense, about who we are and where we are on our spiritual journey. God is the motivating force behind each of us. God loves each of beyond measure. He wants to lead us back to whatever is right, true, and noble in our lives.

God is the desire to do what is right that is present in all of us. As we begin to want to do the right thing we are learning to listen to God.

God is Love and he is the source of all true love. He loves each of us infinitely. He wants to express his love in us and through us. He wants us to learn to truly love ourselves, then he wants us to learn to truly love others.

I also realize that my thoughts and beliefs about God have a lot of unanswered questions and seeming contradictions (and I'm OK with that). For example, if God is the source and creator of all things AND if he is all that is good and true in each of us, then where did sickness and evil come from? Where do our evil thoughts and desires come from? Why are there rapes and murders. Why do some people get tortured to death? Why are there famines where thousands of people die a slow starvation? Is all the evil in the world part of God and his plan? There are lots of things that I don't know, but I don't believe that there is anything outside of God or beyond God's control. The Christian religion says that evil comes from Satan, who is the archenemy of God. That whole line of reasoning makes no sense to me. I used to believe in Satan, but I don't any more. One big problem with man's religion is that it tries to give answers for everything, rather than just saying, "I don't know." A lot of the "answers" that religion comes up with are irrational.There is a long discussion involved with all of this, but I'm not going to address that in this message. That would be off topic of my original purpose here.

  • 1. Col 1:17 & Heb 1:3
  • 2. Act 17:28

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