Is Your View of God Affecting Your Relationship With Him?
"When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say the Son of Man is?' They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' 'But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.'"
- Matthew 16:13-16 (NIV)
How do you view God? How would you answer this question if someone asked you today? It's not unlike the question Jesus once posed to Peter, asking, "Who do you say I am?"
Our answers to this can be complex. Trials and hardships often change how we see God and affect our perception of His provision and faithfulness. Life comes with many challenges and uncertainty, and many of us have questioned if God is still present, if He cares, or if He has compassion. Although this topic may need additional time to address fully, it can be helpful to take some time to reflect on what your view of God is and how this view frames the lens through which you view your life and your relationship with Him.
There are various ways people view God, and those may change over time or depend on the circumstances of life. A few common, untrue perceptions of God's role are found in Ron Highfield's book called God, Freedom, and Human Dignity: Embracing a God-Centered Identity in a Me-Centered Culture, and include:
This view of God communicates that God created the world, is powerful and creative, but wants no personal connection with His people and leaves them alone to care for themselves.
This perspective highlights that God has little compassion for his people and is a dictator of what each person should do in and with their lives.
A vending machine God is someone who serves to make one's life less challenging and is there to give things when asked or asked in the appropriate manner.
This view of God highlights that he has our best interest in mind and is free of condemnation and judgment. This God freely gives advice that can be accepted or not with no repercussions.
A God that is only a judge is seen as someone who is domineering and to be feared. He is displeased with you unless you have your life together entirely and are without sin by your own doing.
God is someone whose purpose is to exert power over humanity and to dominate in every way.
Our perceptions of God and how we view His role in our lives significantly influence our ability to connect with Him and the depth that we can truly know Him. Trials, family upbringing, the knowledge we have obtained about God, and many of our experiences all significantly influence the way we view God. And because of these influences, it can be difficult to believe that God wants a personal relationship with you or is present in trying times.
Taking time to reflect on your view of God will bring awareness to how these untrue characteristics have shaped or tainted your connection to Him. Spending time in prayer about how these untrue characteristics have influenced your relationship with Him will hopefully help guide your prayer about how this hinders your connection to Him and the blessings He has for your life. Sometimes real and raw conversations with the Lord need to take place to help us grow in our understanding of who He is and His desire to be in relationship with us.
Find more content to discuss faith with young adults using the Does God Want Me? module from the Relationship IQ Curriculum.