God IdeasBut what about you? Who do you say that I am?
What are God Ideas?
They are the things you actually believe about God. Your God Ideas are not necessarily what you think. Your God Ideas are the beliefs that actually guide your responses and behaviors. Everyone has a theology. Whether you are a Christian or a Muslim or a Buddhist or an atheist or an undecided, you have ideas about God. Many of us have never thought very hard about our theology, or tried to articulate it clearly and precisely, but we all think of something or someone when we hear the word “God.” Your theology affects how you read the Bible and whom you trust to teach you. The ideas about God you actually believe (and not just think!) cause your decisions, predict your actions, and shape your life.
Why do God Ideas matter?
We truly live at the mercy of our ideas; this is never more true than with our ideas about God. Those who operate on the wrong information aren’t likely to know the reality of God’s presence in the decisions that shape their lives, and they will miss the constant divine companionship for which their souls were made. – Dallas Willard, Hearing God
Your God Ideas matter because your beliefs influence how you feel about yourself and others. They determine how you feel about what your life ought to be like, and how you act on those feelings. Your deep-seated beliefs, particularly the unexamined ones, shape what you think and how you perceive reality.
Why does it matter if my ideas about God are accurate?
Because your beliefs are the shoulders of the road on which you journey. What you believe is how you actually live. If you have wrong ideas about reality — and God and his kingdom are the ultimate reality — you’ll make choices that don’t match reality. You won’t get to know God fully, or at all, and you’ll miss out on the security, intimacy and joy you were created for. Good, life-giving ideas about God are vital to living a life of joyous trust. You cannot trust someone you don’t really know, and you cannot know someone in a deep way if you carry false beliefs about him. Moreover, since our beliefs affect others, your unexamined God Ideas can lead others away from the reality of God even as you try to draw them closer to him.
How do I discover good God Ideas?
To discover good God Ideas, you do what you would do to gain any kind of knowledge: explore, examine, and test. Explore the testimonies of the 2000 years of Christians who have gone before you: Whom do you admire? What beliefs did they live by? Ask good questions, such as “What kind of person is God?” and “What about Jesus?.” Mull over the answers you get. Examine your model Christians and their lives: Were they honest, good, and kind people? Did they reflect the loveliness of Christ? Were they able to weather storms and support others? Were they joyful? Examine your own beliefs, character, and life: What beliefs do you actually live by? Are you positive or negative? Are you fearful, or assume that you won’t have enough? Which of your beliefs make you act more like Jesus? Which make you less human, or humane? Test the ideas you’re discovering. Try them on for thirty days. Practice looking at God and the world in new ways. How do these ideas affect your outlook? How do you treat others? Are you more at peace, secure in God’s love and provision?
Knowledge grows and information increases when we test ideas and beliefs against the realities they presume. This is true in all areas of life, including the personal and the spiritual. – Dallas Willard, “The Spirit of Galileo”
One traditional way of learning and testing God Ideas has been called the “four-legged stool” of Scripture, authority (what those you trust say), tradition (what the various streams of the Church have said), and lived experience. It’s a good place to start.
Where do I start with God Ideas?
Never believe anything bad about God. This guideline won’t guarantee that all your ideas are right, or that you’ll always make right decisions. But if you have an idea about God that makes him seem less loving, less just, or less merciful than he is, you won’t trust him. Trusting God is what leads us to truth. So any idea that makes God seem less trustworthy will get in the way of the very thing that will lead us to truth. Believing only good about God lets God be God.
How do I change my ideas about God?
Once you recognize what your ideas about God are and how they affect your view of reality and your relationship with God, you’ll get a sense of what needs to change. You can’t simply force yourself into new beliefs. Since bad ideas and destructive beliefs work their way into the habits of our bodies over time, we have to use both our minds and our bodies to change them. This happens through practice, experiment, and training. Our section on Finding God will help you discover time-tested practices that help good ideas about God turn into a strong and life-giving relationship with the Trinity.
What are some God Ideas that Christian Simplicity suggests?
Below you will find the same good questions about God, Jesus, God’s kingdom, and the nature of reality that people have been asking for millennia. The answers provided here are those that centuries of Christians have found to be both life-giving and true. What kind of person is God?
- God is holy.
- God is wholly good.
- God loves me, because I am God’s treasured child.
- God wants to spend time with me.
- God is not waiting to chastise or punish me, but to guide me and delight in me.
What about Jesus?
- Jesus is the full image of God. What I see in Jesus is true of his Father.
- Jesus invites us to live in his Father’s kingdom–God’s world–right now.
- We can learn to live in God’s kingdom by becoming Jesus’ apprentices in kingdom living.
What is God’s kingdom?
- God’s kingdom is wherever God is in action, and where God’s will is done.
- God’s kingdom is real. It is within me and around me now, in this life and on this earth.
So, if all this is true — God is good and loves me, and what I see in Jesus is true of his Father, and God’s kingdom is within and around me now — what does this mean for my daily life?
- Life in God’s kingdom is life-giving. Sin–existence outside of the influence and power of God’s kingdom–is life-destroying. Thus, my choices are less about right and wrong than about life-giving and life-destroying.
- Life in God’s kingdom necessarily involves other people. It is not just between me and God, but among me, God, and everyone else too.
- I have enough. And it’s all God’s.
- I am enough. So are others.
Explore each God Idea individually and try them on one at a time for thirty days. See how they fit.