As a mentor and grief counselor, I hear a lot about people’s deepest beliefs and fears and how they are challenged when life gets hard. I am particularly fascinated by how those who profess a belief in god integrate that belief into their lives.
What does it mean to believe in god? In its broadest sense, it means having a worldview that includes the existence of god. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines god as “the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe.” Inherent in this definition is a hierarchical relationship to god in which we are inferior or less than god. Perhaps that accounts for our humanity and our inability to ever achieve perfection in our personal power, wisdom, and goodness.
Indeed, there are many things that we do not or cannot know. This is the territory of faith, trust, and surrender. Yet, some people lose faith in god when things happen that they do not understand or are unable to comprehend. For example, when a child dies. Some people lose their faith saying things like, “What kind of a god would let a child die?” Others give up on god because they cannot abide by the hard knocks they have encountered in their lives. They stop believing in god because they have a stronger belief that god has failed them. So, they fire god and declare themselves the god of their life. These gods are way too small.
When we require god to make sense to us, we limit god to our perceptual abilities.
In his book, The Idea of the Holy, German theologian Rudolph Otto ponders how we are to stand in relationship to god. He concludes that we should stand before god in drop jaw awe – beyond words and concepts. I agree. When we realize that god is beyond our comprehension, we stand at the edge of our unknowing either in fear or trust, depending on whether we imagine a wrathful or a loving god.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
ï Why do I or don’t I believe in god?
ï In what ways do I try to limit god?
ï How is my relationship with god evident in how I live my life?
ï Is your god unfathomable? If not, why not?
I would love to hear your thoughts about god. What do you believe and why?