Former Harvard Chaplain George Buttrick had students who would come into his office and say: “I don’t believe in God.” His standard reply was: “Let’s sit down and you tell me what kind of God you don’t believe in. I probably don’t believe in that God either.”
I’ve also attempted to use this approach because it seems to me that more and more people have a misinformed or distorted view of God, and they start rejecting that idea of God, even though it’s not a true, biblical view of God at all.
The Pew Research Center has found that 80% of Americans say they believe in God. But for many of the people who do believe in God, again, it’s often a misinformed, distorted view of God. For many people, the God they say they believe in is not the God of the Bible. In fact, of the 80% who say they believe in God, only 56% would say it’s the God of the Bible. Even those who say the God they believe in is the God of the Bible can have the God of the Bible wrong. Many who say they believe in God describe this “god” only as a higher power or spiritual force (think Star Wars).
One of the reasons our church is engaged in a series this summer called “Journey through the Old Testament” is so people can begin to discover that God is not limited to how we often think God should be. God doesn’t always easily fit into our conception of God. God is not always what we envision, what we idealize, what we desire.
It can be easy for us to try and make God into what we wish—God is not above our values or judge of our values—God is the reflection of our values. This is not God at all. When God becomes a projection of ourselves, God ceases to be God, and we re-commit the sin of the Garden of Eden and try and make ourselves God.
I think all of us who are genuine Christ-followers are called to know the one true God of the Bible. We should continually be seeking to come to grips with who the Creator God of this universe truly is and see beyond the God who only does what we want and makes us “feel” comfortable.
If you’re interested in having “God conversations”, please let me know. I really think we all need to engage in them more if we’re going to become more fully devoted followers of Jesus.