We can­not make God into what we want

The Calvert Recorder - - Community Forum -

I have read sev­eral let­ters over the past two months in re­sponse to the re­cent killings at the Pitts­burgh syn­a­gogue. One of the is­sues with those re­spond­ing is the ap­par­ent im­po­si­tion of one per­son’s val­ues on oth­ers. The mod­ern con­cept is that each of us should have the right to our own val­ues, the right to our in­di­vid­ual con­cept of God (or no god) and there­fore the right to our own ideas as to what that God ex­pects from us.

That would be fine if God is truly fash­ioned to our im­ages. How­ever, fash­ion­ing God into our in­di­vid­ual im­ages nec­es­sar­ily leads us to var­i­ous in­ter­pre­ta­tions of what God ex­pects from us.

For those of us who are monothe­is­tic, pri­mar­ily the Jewish, Chris­tian and Mus­lim re­li­gions, we in fact wor­ship the same God. This re­al­ity re­quires un­der­stand­ing that we can­not make God into what we want, but that God is who He is al­ready. We may have many dif­fer­ent con­cepts of God. I sus­pect that these dif­fer­ent con­cepts of God can­not all be right, since they vary greatly. We have to seek and search to bet­ter un­der­stand who God is. We are given a log­i­cal brain, the abil­ity to know the world, and the world should make sense. We can­not all have dif­fer­ent con­cepts of God and all be right.

I have been taught we are not ca­pa­ble of com­pletely un­der­stand­ing God — that is, squeez­ing God into our minds. We can, how­ever, ap­pre­ci­ate more and more of God’s at­tributes. In the Chris­tian tra­di­tion, those at­tributes are best de­scribed in the Bi­ble and church teach­ings. As we hold the Bi­ble to be in­errant, church teach­ings must not con­flict with the Bi­ble. The Bi­ble and church teach­ings then guide us in how we must act to­ward one an­other. While there are many ref­er­ences as to what we must not do, such as in 1 Cor 6:9-10, there are also many ref­er­ences as to what we should do, such as the Ser­mon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel.

If in­di­vid­u­als in­sist that they are per­fectly ca­pa­ble of de­vel­op­ing their own code of moral con­duct, I would say they are tak­ing on an awe­some re­spon­si­bil­ity. As is stated many times in the Bi­ble, we will be fi­nally judged for what we do, both good and bad. For ex­am­ple, if we de­cide on our own that it is OK to take the life of the un­born in the name of be­ing com­pas­sion­ate to­ward the mother and God has in­di­cated oth­er­wise in the Bi­ble, we will have some hefty ex­plain­ing to do at our judg­ment. God cre­ated and loves them both.

In our hu­man jour­neys, we all say in some fash­ion that we seek the truth. Like seek­ing the true God, mak­ing up our own truth does not work so well. It takes more than a lit­tle hu­mil­ity to fol­low the Bi­ble and church teach­ings. To do oth­er­wise can be folly. As we are cre­ated eter­nal be­ings (we will be some­where for­ever), that folly has se­ri­ous con­se­quences.

So each of us can dis­miss all this re­li­gious stuff as non­sense, but again that de­ci­sion has se­ri­ous con­se­quences. God so loves us that He gives us the free will to choose, and as in the case of the story of the prodi­gal son, if we re­ject God there is the op­por­tu­nity to come back. With this com­ing back, there are many eter­nal bless­ings. The truth does set us free. Mike Thomp­son, Hol­ly­wood

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