People’s perceptions of God are influenced by their upbringing, culture, education, experiences in life, and mental state. It is true that humans have essentially made God in their image: legalists worship a legalistic God, little people serve a small God, and narrow-minded people serve a narrow-minded God. Some worship a gigantic, love-filled God whose kindness has no bounds, whose forgiveness is total, and whose company is intimate. Naturally, if you gather a bunch of people who share your beliefs, you soon find yourself with a new denomination or religion! Why do humans have such different perspectives on God?
From the dawn of time, humans have attempted to make God in their own likeness. At Sinai, the children of Israel desired a God that they could comprehend, not the mighty one who thundered from the mountain and split the sea. Accordingly, they created a golden calf, something they had seen in Egypt. In Romans 1:25, Paul describes how people would rather serve the creation than the Creator. It is only human nature to want a God who is like us, someone we can manipulate – fallen, sinful, degenerate human nature at that. We have control over what we make and whether we admit it or not, deep down, we want to control God.
It is just part of human nature for us to rely on our own experiences, our own upbringing, our own intellect, when it comes to understanding what God is like, particularly in the absence of an objective revelation of God. We live in a world in which many believe that there is no objective truth, that there are no objective standards, and that our experience determines reality. And so, we are seemingly free to create God in our own image.
God permanently destroyed any merit in that line of reasoning when He entered this world in a real, objective, temporal, and historical sense via the person of Jesus Christ – who came in the flesh to reveal to us what God is like. God achieved this as a completely objective revelation of God, not in an impersonal, cerebral way, but rather by being among us for decades.
That’s why knowing God is totally by faith. Our own experiences, upbringing, education, and culture are largely subjective things – they require no faith. But believing in what God is like requires faith because faith requires an object. And God has provided it in the person of His Son Jesus Christ. And that’s why salvation can only be totally by faith in what Jesus Christ has done – actually, historically, and objectively. That’s the basis of peace and assurance – the only basis there can be.
Furthermore, God frequently has to uproot our conception of Him from our experiences, education, family, and sometimes even our church because understanding what God is like demands faith. You see God doing that time and time again in the Bible; He does it time and time again in our lives.
To know God is to know salvation. And God desperately wants us to know Him – not the God of our culture, not the God of tradition, not the God of our religion – but Jesus Christ who gave His life for you.I pray that your understanding of God will grow every day and that you will witness His mercy and love breaking down all the barriers in your life!