When the God I Read About is not the God I See

God. Whether you believe in God or you don’t believe in God, it is hard to argue against the influence God has had and continues to have in our culture. Some see Him as nothing more than a fairy tale figure with no real purpose, especially a divine purpose. Some have believed and surrendered their very life to Him. No matter where you are on this spectrum, at the very least, it is worth seeking and asking. After all, we are dealing with one of the most debated figures of all time.

The more conversations I’m in with people about God, “organized religion,” church, the Bible, and so on, the more I hear in people’s questions the desire to know. The desire to go deeper in their pursuit of something that will matter in the end. Something or Someone that makes a difference. Amid these conversations, I hear a mainline thread running in the question(s). After much thought and continual learning, when asked about God and the Christian faith, I believe the mainline thread is this:

Why is the God I read about (or am told about) not the God I see (or experience)?

In other words, if God is a loving, caring, relational God, then why does nothing in my world, from what I can tell, speak to this? I hear or maybe have even read in the Bible that God is a good, holy God. Then I look at the world, and I see pain, divorce, cancer, and disunity, at best. I just don’t get it. Is God a liar? Is He mad at the world, or me for that matter?

If you have ever thought about these things or are currently thinking through these things, don’t worry you are not the first. Trust me; you will not be the last either. You are in good company. I have personally asked some of these same questions. With that being said, allow me to pose a few questions in helping as you discern crucial questions about who God is. I encourage you to write out your responses.

Who is God?

This question may seem simple or the logical place to start, but notice what I didn’t ask. I did not say, who do you wish God was in this season of life you find yourself in, who did your parents say God is, who did your grandma’s preacher yell to you that God is. I asked, who is God? Who do you believe Him to be?

What filter or lenses did I use to come to this answer?

When asking questions and trying to seek substantial responses or answers, we must be honest with ourselves about how we came to the conclusion we did, if any. Again, where we are just told to believe a certain way because “that is the way it is.” Did we read secular books, the Bible, and other sources and come to a conclusion? Did we ask questions to those we perceived to be more knowledgeable? Did I enter my own “spiritual journey” of thought and contemplation? After answering the question, “Who is God…” wrestle with the why and how. Why and how did I come to this conclusion?

When you have the time to dedicate to it, get a Bible and read John 1:1-14 and John 3:1-21. Underline key people, words, and phrases. Write down any thoughts, questions, or concerns you have.

Do I know who God is?

Behind the question, why is the God I read about, not the God I see, typically lies this reasoning: God is not acting like I think He should or need Him too. He didn’t come through. Maybe there is a situation you prayed about for months, and the outcome was different from what you were desiring. Perhaps you have always had this internal struggle with how God connects in your reality. Maybe you want to know; you don’t know how, and you desire more than the clique, “Pray this prayer, and you will be fine.” Do you know who God is? Who has changed, the nature, character, and wisdom of God… or… you?

Who God Is.

I grew up in a Christian home. Both of my parents are Christians, my dad is a deacon at my home church, and my mom has always worked in some capacity with kids at church. All of my brothers are Christians; one is in full-time ministry as well. I never recall a time when conversations about Jesus and the Christian faith were not a part of my life. I was genuinely saved at the young age of six years old. To be clear, “saved” means that you have come to the point where you admitted you are a sinner in need of saving from your sins which separate you from a right relationship with God. You have believed in your heart and confessed with your mouth that Jesus is Lord. He is Lord of your life, the old has gone, and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Growing up in a Christian home did not make me a Christian. Think about this: every single person who has been transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ has had a personal encounter with it. Do you know who God is? Think about the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus from John 3. What was Nicodemus’ struggle? He couldn’t separate the Jesus he thought he knew or wanted Him to be from the actual Jesus sitting right in front of Him.

Life is hard, no doubt. There have been (and will be) seasons in my own life when I ask, “God, what are doing right now?” Typically these are requested in hard and difficult seasons. This does not mean God doesn’t care or is absent from your reality. Just because my thoughts about God may change or the way I perceive Him may change doesn’t mean God changes. Pursue Him with all your heart. Seek to know Him honestly; you won’t regret it.

Isaiah 55:8 (ESV), “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.”