Chapter 4 – Where to find more
In the last chapter I wrote:
“Is there anything that can actually meet these three criteria? Yes.”
So where can we find such an answer?
It is ultimately found in a word that I did not like at all as a kid. I grew up as an atheist. Some people say there is no such thing as an atheist. But I truly did not think there was a God. The other kids in my neighborhood actually ridiculed me for having such a view. But none of my senses told me there was anything there. I couldn’t taste, touch, hear, smell, and most importantly see God. So I concluded that he or she did not exist. My parents told me the same thing, and my senses confirmed it. Since I was ridiculed for my view, I grew to dislike the term “God”.
Since I did not like the term “God”, I can imagine that you also may not like this term. So how can I look at the concept of “God” without invoking any negative connotations about “God” that you may have? Or how can I have what I write not be “heard” by you differently because of the coloring of prior definitions that you may have associated with the term “God”? I really do not know how to do this. The best I can do is to ask that you try to build the definitions of what I am writing about “God” separate from definitions you may already have.
In my late teens, I eventually learned that God is actually there. I even laughed a few times in amazement. Finding out that God was there gave me a whole new perspective on life, and I eventually learned how God is ultimately the solution to meeting the 3-Criteria. So we first need to explore who God is before we can see how God can meet the 3-Criteria.
So how did I find out that God is actually there? If I couldn’t see, taste, touch, hear, or smell God, then how could I know?
This isn’t a checkpoint like the ones you have seen so far. It is more of a “pause” point for you to take a moment to think about what your answer would be to the question, “How can you know God is actually there?”
A guy once asked me, “How can someone know God is there?” He further stated that he had been asking people that same question for 15 years. The answer I gave him was the first answer that actually made sense to him.
Here is what I was fortunate enough to “stumble” upon. I learned that it is impossible for me to know that God is there. I do not have the capability within myself to know that God is there. I can try as hard as I can to think that something is there, try to go to somewhere God might hang out, or try religious activity. Yet with all this effort, I still will not be able to stir up within myself the ability to know that God is truly there.
But, the amazing thing to me was to find out that God can give us a new capability to know for sure that S/He is actually there. So the key to knowing God is there is not to start with our efforts, but instead to start with God’s ability to make Him/Herself known to us. The action on our end actually winds up to be “asking”. In other words, the key to this is for us to ask God to make Him/Herself known to us. For us to honestly ask something like, “If you are really there, please enable me to know it.” This may sound simple, but it actually makes sense in the context of things I’ll explain later in this book. But for now, here is another checkpoint…
Does it make sense that to actually know God is there is not something we can muster from within ourselves? But instead, that God can give us the ability to know that S/He is there? If this isn’t clear to you, you may want to think about it some more and/or reread this chapter (Chapter 4). You could also be wild and say, “God if you are really there, please help me not only to know that you are there, but to also understand all the stuff in this book.” And lastly, you may want to take a look at the following website that could be very helpful to you, since it provides you with a very practical way for you to know for sure that God truly exists.
Back to the 3-Criteria
Even if we can know for sure that God is there, there still remains the question of, “How can God meet the 3-Criteria in our lives?” Somewhere along the line, you may have picked up a religious institutional view of God or some other view of God that would make it seem impossible for a God defined that way to meet the 3-Criteria. And if this is your current view of God, then if I were you, I probably wouldn’t want anything to do with a God who is like that. I could also see it being difficult for you to see a new description of God – a description of a God who desires for our personhood to be fully maintained and also desires for us to have the 3-Criteria met in our lives. A God who not only desires these things for us, but is able to help us to have them met in our lives. So regardless of your current view of God, before I can describe how God can meet the 3-Criteria, I need to first start with the big picture of what I’ve been fortunate to learn that God is like.
What is God like?
The topic of God is a huge topic. There are many things known about God and many things not known about God. Of the things that I now know about God, I’ll focus on those things that seem of key importance and also pertain to the meeting of the 3-Criteria.
Some overall general characteristics about God:
Has both male and female qualities. (This is why I’ve already used the S/He and His/Her designations.)
Eternal – always has been and always will be.
Some of God’s desires:
A close relationship with us.
The maintaining and strengthening of our personhood.
For us to value ourselves, others, and even God.
To have us know we are significant – both now and throughout eternity.
When thinking about God, it is easy to think of the motives of a human. But there is an “other-ness” about God. By “other-ness”, I mean things that may seem human, but that no human can completely be like. Here is a list of such characteristics.
Is always perfect in motives.
Is never partial.
Never does an injustice.
Is infinitely knowledgeable and wise.
Never makes a mistake.
Always has selfless love towards us.
Infinitely values us.
Knows us completely.
Always desires the things listed earlier:
Always desires our best.
Always desires a close relationship with us.
Always desires the maintaining and strengthening of our personhood.
Always desires for us to value ourselves, others, and even God.
Always desires to have us know we are significant – both now and throughout eternity.
All these wonderful characteristics point to the perfection of God. Not perfection in a stoic, staunch manner – but perfection in terms of maintaining the above good characteristics without flaw. I’ll label these “perfection qualities” to make it easy to reference them later.
To me this is a tricky thing in understanding God. It is easy to take a human characteristic and to inaccurately attribute it to God. For example, if we looked at the prior statement about God wanting a close relationship with us, we could come to a wrong conclusion if we thought only in terms of human characteristics. If a person wants a close relationship with us, it could be that they may not really care for us but are only trying to meet a need in their own life, or worse yet, they may want to use us. We could assume that God may also have some of these same bad motives. But the place to start in understanding God is to first look at God’s perfection qualities. If we know that God desires a close relationship with us and has only good motives that are selfless, then we can correctly conclude that God’s desire of wanting a close relationship with us is because God wants our best, and God knows that the best for us is actually for us to have a close relationship with Her/Him.
In a similar manner, we can allow the flaws of humanity to hinder us from having a healthy relationship with God. For example, to have a close relationship, openness is required. But if others have hurt us, then openness may be a scary thing. As such, we may wonder if God will emotionally knife us like others have. But the wonderful thing about the perfection qualities of God in this instance is that there are no emotional knives in His/Her consistently selfless love towards us.
In this chapter we took a look at the big picture of what God is like. In light of this, we can now look in the next chapter at how God can actually help to meet the 3-Criteria in our lives.