Who is this God that is always with me? Each person has a different interpretation of God despite the attempts of church councils to define God and Christ. Those creations, like the anticipated Anglican Communion Covenant, are limited by the perspectives of those who write them. No creed or covenant or catechism can define exactly who the “other” is for every person.
And, I seriously doubt that anyone can put a final definition on the God to whom he/she prays. But, in order to communicate with this divine being, I need to have some concept of what God is like and what God likes. So here goes my conceptual thinking about, to use a 12-step term, the God of my understanding.
First, my God is Creator, the primal cause of being. Without God nothing would exist. God caused everything to be…and continues to cause everything to be – both good and evil because God gave humans the ability to co-create. I don’t know what was outside the Garden of Eden, but God sent humans from that place of perfection to create a world and a people. God gave the man and woman the ability to create life from within themselves.
Second, my God wants a relationship with creation; I’m part of creation; so I believe that God wants a relationship with me. Relationships are based on being with one another, getting to know one another, and continuing to be in contact, intimate contact. I won’t pretend that I know God’s innermost being because I think that is unknowable by me. But, I think that God knows my innermost being, not only because I talk about it in prayer (a good word for communication with God), but also because God has been human. I believe that God became human in the form of Jesus, whom we call the Christ, in order to know more about this creation that was “other” to God, that was not divine, that had freewill and could make bad decisions.
Third, God’s time and being are beyond my comprehension. God is “other”, not human. Yet, God created humanity in the divine likeness. (Or maybe we created God in the human likeness then said, “Well, that can’t be all there is to God or God would be just another powerful human.”) But, if I am like God in some ways, then God must be like me in some ways. So, I give God credit for being everything that humanity is and more. God can change the divine will, can reinterpret (like a good therapist) what is happening on earth. But, I cannot know exactly what God is like or how God will change or even what God’s time is like. I do know that hours, minutes, days, years, are constructs of humanity; God didn’t dream up time as we know it. We did that to give some order to our being.
Fourth, God is probably good. I say probably because I’m not sure of the origin of evil. If God created everything, then, did God also create evil? Or was evil just an outcome of giving an imperfect being the ability to choose, the right to make decisions? Did humanity make just enough mistakes that the divine good was skewed into evil? I don’t know, but I like to think that God is good. Jesus certainly preached a good God, and I recognize that the “blazing guns” god of the Hebrew Scriptures was humanity’s attempt to explain what was happening in their lives. Maybe the “good God” is our hope for what could be happening in our lives, and evil is what does happen when we aren’t perfect.
Fifth, I believe that God wants us to be the best we can possibly be. And, I believe that, if I have a relationship with God, that my mistakes can be turned to good. I’m not sure exactly how God does this, but, then, I’m not sure how God does a lot of stuff.
Sixth, I believe that God does intervene in the world. I certainly don’t understand how God does this, but perhaps enough of God exists in each of us that we provide that intervention for others (and for ourselves). Compassion, love, understanding, listening, hugging, giving time and money, generosity of spirit – all these are ways that God intervenes in the world. I’m sure others exist, but I don’t understand them.
Seventh, I don’t much believe in heaven or hell. I don’t know what will happen when I die. We are told that when God raised Jesus from the dead that death was conquered. But, whatever that means, I don’t know. I do know that I can create my own hell right here without much help from anyone else. Mean bosses, crazy people, aging, accidents, natural disasters, my own dumb mistakes – all these contribute to a hell in which I live daily. But, I also believe that I live in heaven daily – through the love that I give and receive, the wonders of this earth, the relationships with people, the beauty that I can help create. Life is enough for me; I’ll let God worry about what might happen later.
And, I believe that I have four purposes in being; to love God, to co-create good in this world, to love my neighbor, and to have a good time. God didn’t mean this life to be dreary, and I can choose to love life or to hate living. Like Aaron, “As for me and my house, we will follow the Lord.”