How To Know God Without Inventing Him

Knowing God Without Inventing Him
by Eric S. Love
podcast available: March 13, 2011

The question sometimes occurs to me: how do I know the God I serve is the real thing? How can I be sure I haven’t invented a God who is exactly what I want him to be?

I look at fundamentalist Christian, Muslim and Mormon groups  - the ones who go to terrible extremes, even violent bloodshed, to protect and honor their faith - and wonder what exactly separates us from them? Shouldn’t we believe in an extreme way?

I look at the contradictions in my own life in what I say I believe and the freedom I actually walk in. I see the contradictions on people around me who are believers.

So I began to ask the question: how can I know you God without inventing You?

It’s healthy to challenge your own faith and search out why you believe what you believe. One of the greatest diseases in the church today is people who don’t have any idea why they believe what they believe. That’s why there’s a disconnection between our faith and youth culture, why Islam* and Mormonism** are the fastest growing religions in the world and in America, respectively - not Christianity. (However, data suggesting this is debatable.)

Here is what I’ve found so far.

First thing: we aren’t going to know the whole truth and we have to be okay with that. We do the best we can and learn as we go.

1 Corinthians 13:12 - For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

2. Accept that we do see through the filter of our own experience and understanding.

All we have to see with is our own EYES - and that’s enough.

3. Accept that God is okay with that.

Consider this:Paul was in Athens and he became disturbed because of all the idols. So he went to the Mars Hill Auditorium where all the scholars debated important matters and said this: “Men of Athens, I perceive in every way that you are most religious. For as I passed along and carefully observed your objects of worship, I came also upon an alter with this inscription, ‘to the unknown god.’ Now what you are already worshipping as unknown I set forth to you. The God who formed the earth and everything in it does not dwell in human shrines...” (Acts 17:22-31)

He went on to tell them about God and verse 34 says some even became believers.

That almost sounds like blasphemy, doesn’t it? But God was fine with it. Because it was something in which those men could relate to enough to understand Him, to know Him.

God is fine with us finding Him within our own limited eyesight - and He is big enough to expand what we can see to include more truth about who He is.

4. Generally speaking, God doesn’t hide. He’s pretty obvious - so obvious in fact its sometimes hard to see Him. Because we are looking for something that doesn’t seem obvious.

We must strike a balance between keeping an open mind to see God and actually looking for God - focus.

God isn’t going to speak French to me because I don’t speak French. He usually speaks English laden with sarcasm, because He knows I understand sarcasm. He speaks to me in a language I understand.

So how do I know the voice I respond to is God’s? A history of fruit that proofs it and trial and error.

5. Faith is always a risk. Accept it and believe.

Hebrews 11:1 - Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

That’s pretty vague, isn’t it? And yet faith is one of the most substantial things we have. It solidifies God for us - the “substance” of things hoped for, the “evidence” of things not seen. We have to take a risk and believe something. When we do we will discover wether or not there is anything substantial there for us to walk on when we step out.

And we have to trust that God wants to be found. If God is a malicious God who delights in our horror and destruction, then we are all in trouble. SO we have to believe that He will help us find Him.

6. Look at what He says about it.

Psalm 46:10 - Be still and know that I am God.

Relax. This is about life, right? Then it shouldn’t squeeze the life out of you to try and find it. Be at peace. This is the best way to find God - to be still and find Him. Don’t look out of a desperate reaction to circumstance. We almost always respond wrong when we do that in any situation, unless we have learned to first center ourselves in peace.

What did Jesus say?

Luke 7:35 - Wisdom is justified by her children.

You will know if what you have is the real thing by what kind of fruit it bears in your life. Now understand, you may presuppose what the fruit should look like and find nothing that matches that description, so you have to actually look at what fruit is really there and evaluate it.

Does it demonstrate life? Does it defy certain normal physical and logical norms while still fitting comfortably and obviously into your everyday life? Then there’s a good chance it’s good fruit. Also, take a look at the people around you: how do they respond to you, particularly the ones who aren’t closest to you?

Jesus also said it like this to the Pharisees:

John 10:34-35 - You don’t believe me? Then believe my works.

And that is what we do. We look at what God does in our lives and we build our faith on that. We are not seeking signs we are simply acknowledging what is there. Again, it’s easy to overlook the obvious but we have to work not to.

7. Love

This may seem like a weird thing to suggest as crucial to knowing God, but it isn’t at all.

1 John 2:3, 6 - By this we know we have come to know Him, by keeping His commands... to walk in the same manner as He walked.

We will know that we really want to know Him when we try to walk in the same manner in which He walked. And what manner was that exactly? Well, let’s see how John - who said we should walk like Jesus - describes Jesus’ walk.

1 John 3:14, 18-19
We know we’ve passed out of death into life because we love each other... Let us not love with word or tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this we are of the truth.

If love becomes the mark of our lives then we know we have found the truth. John also talks early in chapter 3 about abiding in Him and the conflict between righteousness and unrighteousness. He follows this up with talking about how we KNOW Him as we KNOW ourselves as we act in love.

In John 8:32, Jesus said “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples. And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” There is something about us abiding in Him, who is the Word, and walking in love.

Finally, 1 John 4:6-7
By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error: let us love one another.

Love will help clear away all the mess that makes it difficult for us to see.

8. Seek.

Matthew 7:7 - Ask and it will be given. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you.

Remember, God is not hiding Himself, but we have to learn to see Him. Part of this learning comes from us asking and then asking again. This verse in Matthew is translated in the Amplified Bible like this:

:Keep on asking and it will be given to you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you.

Don’t give up because things seem dim or confused. And when they do seem hard to discern, remind yourself of times when they weren’t so hard. Look around you for concrete evidence that your not a fruitcake, that God is with you and He is real, and hang on to those things.

*By all the reliable sources, Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. It has been verified by many independent sources, many of which are listed below.
CNN World News ( 14 November 1997 Report --- See link below )
World Christian Database ( 200-2005 Survey --- See link Below )
Foreign Policy ( May 2007 Report --- See link Below )
And also, by many other websites like,
People's Daily Online ( 2 Nov, 2006 --- See link Below )
Islam is Growing ( --- See link Below )
And, the number of adherents of Protestants and Catholics is decreasing. So, as people are accepting christianity, they are leaving it at a greater rate as reported in leading newspaper. The New York Times ( 25 Feb, 2008 Report --- See link Below )
Therefore, as verified by indepedant news media, western sources and even by the christian organisation itself, Islam is indeed the fastest growing religion in the world.

Read more:

** - Mormonism is the fastest growing faith group in American history according to "U.S. News & World Report," which reports that if present trends continue there could be 265 million members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) worldwide by 2080.

Mormons have launched a major expansion program to keep up with growth, opening 32 temples across the country this year. There are now 100 temples internationally, serving 11 million Mormons.

One reason for the LDS increase is that its message "strikes a spiritual resonance in people," Neal Maxwell, one of the church's elders, tells the newsweekly. Another, the magazine notes, is its aggressive missionary effort. Last year the church sent out almost 60,000 missionaries to 120 countries, where they won 306,000 converts.

LDS teaching emphasizes the church's commitment to conservative and family values, and downplays its past beliefs in polygamy and racism. Critics maintain while Mormons may use the same vocabulary as mainstream Christians that "they frequently attach radically different meaning to the terms," says the magazine.

Eric Love, 3/13/2011