Picking a god is tricky business. Some Hindus say there are more than 300,000 gods. On the opposite end of the spectrum are Buddhists who say there are no deities. And the Shinto religion, found primarily in Japan, believes that gods reside in all creatures, and even in trees, soils and objects. How do you decide? How do you decide?
Things would be so much easier if God just came to us on the street and said, "Well, here I am." We wouldn't need any of this faith stuff (because we'd know for sure who to believe in). There wouldn't be fights over whose God is right. And we wouldn't have the confusion of choosing between hundreds of different religions. Well, this article gives some factors to consider when picking a god and the reasons why I chose the God I did.
There's no doubt that we have made great progress in recent years. We have more information and better access to it than ever before. With advanced technology, we now live longer than our ancestors, fly faster than the speed of sound, and can access the world from a computer keyboard.
But while we're progressing in some ways, we seem to be digressing in many others. Consider that:
Unfortunately, the list could go on--the rise in ethnic genocide, the depletion of the ozone layer, and the record number of wars worldwide.
Yet, there are people going around saying we are divine or masters of our own destiny. We are our own little gods.
If the human race is God, then we're not doing a very good job. We're killing ourselves and our planet rather than striving to ensure our survival.
Facts like those mentioned previously that demonstrate humankind's propensity toward greed, hatred, and selfishness tell me that if I'm to find a fully competent God, I'll need to look outside the human race for someone who qualifies.
More than human. I picked the God of Christianity because I saw him as definitely more than human. He is the creator of the universe--an all-knowing, all-powerful Being who alone is the first cause and sustainer of all that exists (including you and me).
"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live." 11
There are so many areas in which the God of Christianity is superior to us humans. While we are mortal and temporal, he is immortal and eternal." 12 Unlike you and me, he knows all things. And he, unlike us, is morally perfect in every way, incapable of evil or wrong." 13
When I was only two years old, my parents divorced and I lived with my mom. I never knew my father because he lived in a different part of the country. I didn't see him again until I was nine when I began visiting him every summer. It was great getting to know him and be with him.
I knew I had a father. He was out there somewhere. My life became much better as a result of getting to know him personally.
My father wasn't just a concept, a life-force or an idea. He was real. When picking a god, I suggest choosing one you are capable of knowing. Is this god attainable to you? And, would you even want to know that god personally?
He can be known personally.
For me, an impersonal god would be like having no god at all. Many other religions say God is unknowable or looks down on humanity with a disdain that says, "I can't know you."
But the God of Christianity can be known on a personal level--"This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God." 14 Even though the God of Christianity is THE God of the universe, he consistently makes it clear in the Bible that he wants us to know him and experience a relationship with him 15 The Bible says that he created each one of us "in his own image." 16 That shows he wants to relate to everyone. He has personality, feelings, intellect and will, and we can have a personal relationship with him.
We spend a great deal of time and effort on how we come across to others. We try to drive a cool car (or at least have a car), wear stylish clothes, and join the right fraternity or sorority. We sculpt our bodies through exercise, get our hair just right, and keep a supply of breath mints on hand.
Why do we do these things? Because we want acceptance. We want to be liked. And we want to feel valued. We feel that if we look right, act right and have the right stuff, we will be accepted. That is probably true on your campus, but but do we want that to be true with a god?
I suggest picking a god who accepts you for who you are, not what you do. (After all, you are a human being, not a human doing.)
He loves you.
As interesting as the gods of the different religions of the world are, I've noticed the God of Christianity really loves people. We are told in the Bible that we have been "fearfully and wonderfully made." 17 by him. And that he even knows how many hairs we have on our head." 18
While other religions and ethical systems focus on what we can do right, the God of Christianity came up with a perfect solution for all the things we've done wrong-Jesus Christ's death on the cross. His death on the cross was the basis for our acceptance. Let me explain in greater detail.
Jesus lived a morally perfect life 19 and then was beaten, tortured and crucified (historically one of the most horrible forms of execution). He took upon himself the punishment for the sins of humankind. Because God is fair, he couldn't allow sin to go unpunished. But he wanted to have personal relationships with us. We were helpless to pay for our own sins so God chose Jesus to take the punishment for us. The Bible says, "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." 20 The God of Christianity really cares about us.
So when we have a relationship with God, we are loved for who we are, not what we do or possess. This is unconditional love.
In college I split my finger wide open. It happened late one night, and I had to go to the emergency room. When I arrived there, things happened quickly. They wanted to stitch me up immediately because I was losing so much blood.
I went from an admitting nurse to a doctor's aide and finally to the doctor himself within a few minutes. The doctor pumped a few shots of anesthetic into my finger and then put in the stitches.
I'm so glad they had such a smooth system in that hospital that night. Things were under control and the hospital staff were skilled in what they did.
When choosing a god, I suggest picking one who has a plan and also has the power to carry it out.
The worst thing that could happen is choosing a god who really cared about us, but wasn't all-powerful. That's not the kind of god I want. Ultimately, I want a god who has a solution for all the pain, suffering and evil in the world.
He has things completely under control.
In spite of the way things appear in our world, the God of the Bible knows exactly what's going on all the time.
God has given men and women a free will. We can choose to do good or to do evil. We can choose to start a relationship with God or choose to reject him.
When I picked God I understood that he was all-powerful and wasn't limited by anything. He is in complete control. He revealed his power over the ultimate enemy--death--by raising Jesus Christ from the dead. 21 No one has conquered death except Jesus Christ 22
The God of Christianity has a plan for all of time. 23 While he is able to change circumstances and work miracles, he has also given us a free will. Most of the bad things going on in this world are the result of our free will gone awry and the consequences of living in an imperfect world. But everything that ever happens passes through his hands--nothing happens that he hasn't allowed. 24
But that doesn't mean God doesn't respond positively to humankind. He does intervene in our lives when we have a relationship with him, and we can communicate our needs to him (you know this as prayer). So, when picking a god, choose one who is powerful enough to bring genuine change.
During most of my childhood, my mother and I lived month-to-month, often just barely getting by financially. Then one summer we moved in with a very wealthy relative. For four months I experienced all the perks of incredible wealth.
Every morning I ordered my breakfast from the full-time cook employed by my relative. I told him what I wanted, then sat at the table, and he brought it out to me. Then when I was finished eating, I would ring a bell and the cook would come and collect the plates.
Being around that kind of wealth is probably something I'll never experience again, but I'm glad I had the chance to experience the other side of the tracks. Now I can understand many of the things poor people and rich people go through.
When it comes to choosing a god, I want a god who understands where I've been. I want a god who knows what it's like to live on planet Earth, a god who understands my hardships, fears and longings. If there is a god who can be known personally, how can that god really know me unless that god understands, to some extent, what life here has been like for me? When choosing a god, I suggest looking for one who possesses sympathy, empathy and an understanding of the human experience.
He understands what humans go through.
The God of Christianity definitely understands what it's like to be one of us. Jesus Christ was God who "became a human being and lived here on earth among us." 25
Even though Christ was fully God, he was also fully human. He hungered, he slept, he wept, he ate. He endured every kind of difficulty we face. 26 Therefore, he is able "to sympathize with our weaknesses." 27
God assumed a human nature in the person of Jesus Christ and lived the humblest life to so he could identify with all of us. He was born in a stable; he was considered illegitimate; his family was not wealthy; he was not physically attractive; he encountered prejudice and persecution; he was hated by his neighbors and fellow countrymen; he was abandoned by many of his family and friends; and he was wrongfully executed as a criminal.
Wherever we've been, Jesus Christ has been there. He knows what it's like when things don't go your way. He knows what it's like to feel rejected, abandoned, misunderstood, even brokenhearted. He understands you and me. That's another reason why I picked the God who revealed himself through Jesus Christ.
Think about an important task or project you had to do--a term paper, a live music performance, an athletic event, whatever. You felt good once it was over, because you accomplished something. At that moment, you probably felt a sense of purpose in your life.
There's something inside each of us that longs for meaning and purpose. When I die, I want my life to somehow make a contribution to the world I leave behind. I don't want to be just a puff of smoke in the annals of human history. At my funeral, I don't want the guy giving my eulogy to say, "Here lies... uh... uh... what was his name again?"
Is there a god who can give your life purpose and meaning? Can this god include you in something bigger than yourself?
He can give life meaning and purpose.
I saw in the God of Christianity the most fulfilling life possible. Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." 28
He also said, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." 29 God has created me so that a relationship with him is the only thing that ultimately satisfies my deepest longings. 30
One of the most fulfilling things about having a personal relationship with God is that he asks me to become part of his grand plan. 31 He created me and knows how my talents and skills can be used, both to fulfill me and further his purposes in the world. 32 He allows me to do things that matter not just for this world, but will affect the next one too. 33
As a student, you've got your whole life before you. How do you make certain you're going to do what you were made to do unless you consult the one who made you? That was my question, and Jesus Christ answered it and gave my life direction, purpose and meaning.
Some people have theorized that there are "many paths up the same mountain" (that most world religions basically worship the same God). However, if you look closely at the gods/Gods worshipped around the world, you will notice significant differences among them. Those differences are so striking that there cannot be many paths up the same mountain. There must be different mountains because there are such vastly different gods/Gods.
I encourage you to do some searching yourself and determine which God is the true one. My hope is that you will carefully consider the God you choose. It really does matter. Your life and your eternal destiny depend upon the choice you make.
As you investigate which god/God to pick, I urge you to consider the God of Christianity. As for me, I've found incredible fulfillment in him being my God. Once again, here's why:
He is more than human, which gives me hope for our world.
He can be known personally, and has made it possible for me to have an eternal, personal relationship with him.
He really loves me and cares about me, which he proved through Jesus Christ's sacrificial death on the cross.
He is all-powerful, which he proved by raising Jesus Christ from the dead.
He understands the human experience, and therefore can empathize with my pain, struggles, longings and joys.
He provides a sense of purpose in my life, and has given me the kind of fulfillment I've not been able to find anywhere else.
The God of Christianity has created you in his image. That means two things. First, you have been created to know him. He made that possible by assuming a human nature as Jesus Christ and dying on the cross so that you might have eternal life.
Second, you have innate dignity. Therefore, God will not force himself upon you. Instead, he says, "Behold, I stand at the door [of your heart] and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him [or her]." 34
If you would like to invite Jesus Christ, the only true God, into your life, here is a suggested prayer to guide you. Prayer simply means talking to God, and the words aren't as important as is the attitude of your heart."Dear God, I confess that I have sinned against you. Thank you for taking all of my sin upon yourself in the person of Jesus Christ on the cross. I want to receive your forgiveness. I want to enter into a relationship with you. I ask you to come into my life as my Savior and Lord and to make me into the person you've intended me to be."
John Gay is a graduate of the University of Texas. After four years of "majoring" in fraternity, John decided to finally get a little more serious about life and asked Jesus Christ to come into his life. He currently works with Campus Crusade for Christ as a writer, art director and designer.
1Federal Bureau of Investigation
2National Center for Health statistics.
4Census Bureau statistics.
5National Center for Health statistics.
6The College Board.
7"Speaking Of: World Health," Los Angeles Times, May 2, 1995, H2; citing "The World Health Report 1995, Bridging the Gaps."
9L'Express, September 2, 1993.
10Los Angeles Times, December 15, 1992.
13I John 1:5
151 Timothy 2:3-4
22Frank Morison, a British lawyer, set out to disprove Jesus' resurrection. During his investigation, Morison ended up believing in the resurrection and in Jesus Christ, and wrote the book Who Moved the Stone?
25John 1:14 (The Living Bible)