A few days ago, I heard Elijah praying with his mom in the bedroom while I was working outside. I went in to ask Elijah about his prayer, and he said, “I was praying to Godzilla.” 😂 Looks like I need a little more work in the dad arena.
As funny as Elijah’s comment was, it made me think seriously about how we can have extremely diverse views of who or what “God” is. I’m not going to get into a full-blown theological explanation of what the “Christian” idea of God is (I find myself thinking about my perspective on this often), but I will share some questions.
Real or Imagined?
The first question we really start with is whether God exists or not. Whatever your thoughts are on this, I hope it’s not out of default but out of your own thoughtful seeking. In my searching, a friend of mine recommended the Unbelievable Podcast, which I’ve found to be incredibly helpful.
Let’s say you believe that God is real, then the next two questions are important too.
Powerful or Impotent?
This question might seem stupid given that, if there is a God, one of the qualities that would make God a God, is being powerful or even omnipotent. But it’s interesting to observe that many of the God-believing people I know are also some of the most fearful. I guess this fear can be traced to either thinking God is impotent and is unable to really come through for us or God isn’t benevolent but a monster (the next question).
Again, I won’t go into a full-blown theological explanation. There are a lot more people interested in these intellectual pursuits than I am. I am interested in the reflection questions: If I believe there is a God, wouldn’t He be powerful? And if He is powerful, shouldn’t I align with Him as much as possible? And if I don’t align with Him, isn’t that the biggest proof of my unbelief?
In my own personal devotions, I’ve found that the clearest signs of my unbelief is fear, when I don’t really believe that God has power to save. This is especially tested now during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Like many of you, I too am wrestling with many questions during this period. It’s been helpful to remember this story in Mark 9. In the story, a father, brings his possessed son to Jesus:
21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Help me overcome my unbelief. This is probably the prayer of the moment. And it is a perfectly good prayer. There isn’t anything wrong with admitting the limit of your faith and asking for help.
Benevolent or Monster?
Let’s say you believe God exists, and let’s say if you believe that He is powerful, a good follow-up question is: Is this real and powerful being for you or against you?
This is another question that’s important to settle in our hearts (and many times resettle, like in my case). I recommend meditating on this famous chapter: Romans 8.
I read it this evening, myself.