We cannot make God into what we want
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