Why Our Ideas About God Matter


Ideas about God

“Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than about Him.”

― Thomas Merton

“Oh, how easy it is to clutter up the path of the Holy Spirit with my images and preconceptions of God!” 

―Edwina Gately

Our ideas about God matter. I’ve always thought so. But I used to think that it was like passing some sort of cosmic test: Are your ideas about God correct? Yes? Heaven to your right… No? Well, then sorry, but you can’t be one of us.

Our ideas about God matter. But maybe not in the way that we are used to thinking they do.

For instance, we get caught up in asking questions like “Do we worship the same God?” which isn’t the real question we are asking. The real question is: whose ideas about God are more correct?

This is a serious question with serious consequences. A lot of lives have been lost or damaged over questions like these. But this question is old, stale, and devoid of life.

If God exists, then God is, and my ideas about God don’t change God. Most often your ideas about God won’t change my ideas about God. And so it goes.

But our ideas about God change us. They affect how we live, how we love, and how we treat other people.

Sometimes our ideas about God can be a matter of life and death. A matter of life and destruction. A matter of life and illness.

Our ideas about God do matter.

My friend Janet explains that how we experience God is determined by our image of God. And as Richard Rohr just shared recently: “Your image of God creates you.”

So here are some questions that might be worth asking:

  • How do my ideas of God shape me? Shape us as a church or culture?
  • What are the consequences of my beliefs about God?
  • Do my ideas about God cause me to close my heart or open my heart toward other people?
  • Do my ideas about God cause me to fear or to love?
  • Do my ideas about God make me hard or humble?
  • Do my ideas about God bring forth Life? In me? Around me? Or do my ideas about God result in death? If not physical death, the death of spirit and soul?
  • When you think of God, what do you think about? What are your ideas?

We probably all have some God ideas that we could let go of, ideas that we need to heal from. Some of us may need to let go of ideas that seem pretty important to other people, but those beliefs only cause anxiety, fear, and oppression in us. Some God ideas just don’t produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, or self-control.

Sometimes our healing requires that we release those ideas about God. It is okay not to know things you thought you were supposed to know.

Maybe this is why the question: “Who are you God?” is so important. It is a question to ask God every day. Let’s let God show us who God is.

I don’t have many hard and fast ideas about God anymore, and the ideas I do hold, I want to hold with an open hand. I don’t want my ideas about God to get in God’s way.

But these are the God ideas or experiences that have caused my heart to grow and open and soften, that have brought me to Life:

  1. God loves me; and
  2. God is with me, not far off and distant.

This is plenty miraculous and mysterious and amazing. I could spend the rest of my life wondering about these ideas, soaking them in, letting them transform me and the way I inhabit the world.

4 thoughts on “Why Our Ideas About God Matter

  1. Yes, this. If I could go back 15+ years and share things with myself…this would be high on the list…with most of the sentences highlighted. Thank you for asking questions that are worth asking for the rest of our lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, you are welcome. I’m learning that we can go back to share some of these things with our younger selves. . . the one that is still hiding inside of us deep down somewhere. It’s kind of powerful and healing. 🙂


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