Taking God Personally

“I don’t know anything about God.”

Taking God Personally

The girl who admitted this had just told me that she prayed to God for her children every night. Her prayers, born out of genuine love for her little family, were offered to a ‘God’ she didn’t know. 

Many people are like this. Two thousand years ago, among the many altars devoted to thousands of gods in the city of Athens, there was a single altar with the words ‘To the unknown God’ inscribed on it. The Athenians believed it possible that some deity existed whom they were unaware of and they didn’t want to fail to worship him! When a Christian missionary arrived in Athens his message to these religious people was, “the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you” (Acts 17:23).

Perhaps you believe that some God exists but that’s as far as you’re willing to go. It may be that you even accept that some facts about God could be inferred from creation, but the notion that a human being can know God personally seems very far-fetched. Think with me about the first verse of the Bible:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

In previous blog posts we saw that the existence of creation necessitates a Creator. We also discovered that this Creator, because He exists outside of the universe, must be timeless, spaceless, and non-physical. Another implication of creation is that God is Personal.

This has tremendous relevance to us. If the ‘god’ who existed was impersonal (simply a ‘power’ or ‘force’) then a meaningful relationship with ‘it’ would be truly impossible. Thankfully, the true God is a personal being as creation, the Bible, and human experience confirm.

First, creation exists because God chose to create it.

While visiting an Asian country I was approached by a Christian girl who was facing challenges in university. Her fellow-students and lecturers believed that the creator was an impersonal force, not a personal God. However, as I pointed out to her, a mere force is incapable of decision making. Power decides nothing, only persons decide. If the universe had always existed it would be conceivable that it was held up by an impersonal force. Creation, however, being a sudden act of stupendous power at a specific point in the past, shows that a decision was made to act. God acted when and how He wanted. “He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:3).

Persons decide and use the power at their disposal to carry out their will. Some years ago I bought a model ship which remains unbuilt. I could make it, but I haven’t. Why? I have the ability, but I haven’t made the decision to build it. Power decides nothing; persons decide. The Creator must be personal.

Second, God has communicated to us and given a self-revelation.

God knows Himself, and shows Himself to us through His word, the Bible. In this first verse of the Bible we have learned that God is powerful and eternal — we know this because He has revealed it to us. This confirms not just that we can know God but that He wants us to know Him. The personal God has created personal beings (humans) to enjoy a personal relationship with Him.

Does this matter? Definitely. Our Creator is calling us into relationship with Himself. Augustine put it well: “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” A living personal relationship with God is the ultimate blessing for a human being; it is the goal for which we have been created. Lacking this, we can never be fully satisfied; having this, we can know eternal satisfaction.

This brings me to human experience. At twenty-one years of age, desperately lost and disillusioned with life, longing for reality and purpose, I trusted Jesus Christ as my Saviour and Lord. Immediately upon doing so, I knelt beside my bed to pray to God. My first word was “Father” and, as I said it, I was profoundly conscious of a genuine relationship into which I had entered with my Creator. God was no longer a distant deity; He had become my Father and I had become His child. 

This relationship is available to you. God may seem distant because your sins separate you from Him and His blessings. But Jesus Christ has “suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18) and you can be reconciled to God by faith in His Son. This is the reason for your existence, and the only means of eternal blessing. Jesus said “I am the way … no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).