In the John Green book, The Fault in Our Stars, there is a line that says: “It's almost as if the way you imagine my dead self says more about you than it says about either the person I was or the whatever I am now.”
I have found this sentiment to be true. We tend to base our understanding of others on how we think, feel, or act. I have had the experience of other people placing their feelings and thoughts upon me and, regrettably, I have been guilty of doing it to others. It is bizarre to have someone else tell me what I mean to say with my words and what my intentions are with my actions when the realities within me are actually quite different from their opinion.
As I read the line in John Green’s book, I was struck with how much that concept fits mankind’s perception of God. It seems to me that whatever we believe about God may have more to do with who we are and what we want Him to be rather than with whom He really is.
Genesis 1:26 states that God said, “Let us make man in our image.” However, I’m now convinced that for the past thousands of years, since the origin of mankind, people have been working on accomplishing the mission of “let us make God in our image”. It has become obvious to me that our physical bodies, our emotions, and our thoughts are constantly pervading what we believe about God and how we portray Him to others. The “holy” writings in major world religions are entrenched with cultural aspects and finite human understanding.
Where does this leave me?
I can only be true to who I am and be real in who I am and how I act on that. I cannot make others be true to me or real with me. I am God’s creation. I belong to Him.
What does this mean about what I should or should not believe about God?
I can only rely on God to reveal to me who He really is. I cannot depend on others to tell me who God is or isn’t. I cannot rely on religion or any of religion’s forefathers to tell me who God is. Since I believe in a Supreme God—Almighty, Sovereign, All-Knowing, and Inherent in all—then I can surely trust that He will lead me perfectly. In Him I will trust. I am God’s workmanship.
What does this mean about what others believe about God (or the absence of)?
I am to respect the beliefs of others. Do I care enough to hear them out, and am I willing to do so? If I don’t care to take the time to really listen and consider the ideas and beliefs of others, then why should they care to listen to or consider mine? Where each person stands in their belief system of what is true or not ultimately rests in God’s hands. To God I will entrust them. They are His workmanship.
We do not have the right to ravage people’s character or emotions or to demoralize them because their version of God does not align with our own. We do not have the right to condemn others and murder them with our words (or hands) if they do not conform to our theology.
If I have no love or respect for my fellow human being, I have no right asking him/her to consider my ideas or beliefs.
If I have no respect or love for my fellow human being, I have no right suggesting to him/her what is the better decision to make or not make.
If I have no sincere love and concern for my fellow human being, my actions and words are only self-serving and self-aggrandizing.
“If I should have prophecy and should be perceiving all secrets and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so as to transport mountains, yet have no love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2, CLNT)
Who we believe God to be
and how we act on that belief
may be saying much more about us
than about who God really is.