Thursday, August 25, 2011

Does Having a Personal God Matter?

I believe that there is only one true God that is the uncreated and uncaused being. Everything that has been created or will be created has and will be created by God. God is a transcendent being meaning that God exists outside of and beyond creation. However, this does not mean that God only exists outside of creation—God is personally involved within creation and does in fact draw near.

Genesis 3 speaks of God dealing on a very personal level with Adam and Eve. While there might be those that wish to dismiss this story as mythological in nature (of which I am not one), it still speaks to the truth about how God has taken a personal interest in humanity and has decided to deal with humanity on a personal level. While God may not speak to us in the same way depicted in the Garden of Eden as well as other places in the Bible, it is clear that we see this same level of personal involvement through Jesus Christ.

Rather, what it means to say that God is transcendent is that we as human beings, restricted to living within creation, cannot in this lifetime fully know everything there is to know about God. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 13:12 that we do not see everything fully which also relates to God. Part of our not seeing God fully is due to our sinfulness but it is also due to God being beyond our full comprehension. Our knowledge of God is limited to what God has revealed to us.

But living life as if God is a personal God that has drawn near can be very difficult. I find that I don’t always consider that God is personally involved in my life. My angry reaction this morning to the guy that cut me off did not take into account that God may be watching. I was in my car. He can’t actually see me in there can he? He doesn’t actually notice when I pretend not to see someone in need does he?

I would guess that not fully living life considering that we have a personal God is largely responsible for leaving people in hunger and need. It is responsible for wars and conflict. God may be a personal God but he has also allowed us to chart our own path. We are personal beings and we need to consider how we relate to other personal beings in light of having a personal God. Jesus told a parable about this very thing in Matthew 25:42-45. He related how we treat others to how we treat God:
“For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?” Then he will answer them, saying, “Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.”
While I am not always as good at that as I should be it does provide an excellent area of continued growth.

Amy Hall has an interesting blog post on the notion of God being a personal God.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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