In our homeschool, we are currently reading Usborne Greek Myths. Our History lessons are taking us through ancient civilizations, so we are reading about the Greek “little-g” gods. Some might cringe at reading about pagan gods with impressionable kids, but I see it as a teaching opportunity. There are three things I try to teach as we read and discuss:
1. Greek gods (and their myths) are frequently referenced in literature, so knowing the reference point will help in future reading
2. The Greeks made up gods who were powerful, yet imbued with human vices. They deceive, get deceived, play tricks, fly into jealous rages, and are even outdone by a mortal or two. In other words, they are weak! When people come up with their own objects of worship, they most often end up with something inferior
3. As I’ve pointed out to my kids, our God (who actually is real) is far superior to these imagined ones.
What we know about God is learned through what we observe in His creation and what He has revealed to us in His Word. It is vital to learn who God is versus how we want Him to be.
What I cover in this post will barely scratch the surface, but keep in mind how understanding who God really is affects how you live as a Christian. It would take years to cover the many facets of God, and I still wouldn’t give a full picture. He is far too great!
God is Love (and loving)
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.”
~ 1 John 4:7-9 ESV
God shows us what love should be—seeking the best for another. People have perverted the idea of love by thinking God should give us whatever we want, not just what we need.
Parents fall into this trap when they think they have to give their kids everything they themselves lacked as children. While it is wonderful to give children some of the things they want, it is not in their best interest to do so always.
My oldest child LOVES sweets, but I have observed that any product with petroleum-based dyes and/or high-fructose corn syrup will send her behavior into a tailspin. She loses her grip on self-control. It is in her best interest to say, “no,” when it comes to such foods. I even remind her why sometimes.
On the other hand, I make sure she gets medical care, healthy foods, educational opportunities, and quality time. These are necessities. I cannot even provide ALL the necessities all the time, but do the best I can with the resources at my disposal.
How much more does our Heavenly Father do for us? He will often say no to our requests because it is in our best interest. He gives us what we need for life and godliness. He has given us His Son and the Holy Spirit!
Unlike me, God knows exactly what is best, sees long-term repercussions, and loves perfectly.
His love involves discipline and training. This is another often misunderstood aspect of love. People mistakenly think discipline is cruelty so they abandon God when difficulties arise.
God is Just
“Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.”
~ Isaiah 30:18 ESV
Many refuse to believe that a loving God would send people to hell. They do not know or understand God.
God is perfectly just, and He has made His position abundantly clear. When people refuse to obey Him on earth, He will not give them access to heaven even if they seem “basically good.” Only God can judge the heart and our hearts will be judged by whether we have put on Christ or continued to roll with the world.
Knowing God will eventually execute justice on those who are evil allows me to quell my desire for vengeance. My knee-jerk reaction to injustice is swift retribution. Unfortunately, I lack the power (and wisdom) to carry this through on a world-wide scale.
What I must remember about God’s justice is that it is tempered with perfect mercy. I deserve justice a hundred times over, but God—by sending Jesus Christ—gave me an opportunity to receive grace and mercy. When we refuse Christ, we accept God’s justice—and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
“See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven.”
~ Hebrews 12:25 ESV
God is Powerful
“Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love. For you will render to a man according to his work.”
~ Psalms 62:11-12 ESV
Do you believe God has the power to save?
Do you believe Jesus conquered death?
Do you believe He can fulfill our requests?
This is critical! Why do so many of us fail to pray? If we believe God is powerful, why aren’t we praying ceaselessly?
Watch waves pommel the beach. Stand at the base of the Grand Tetons. See the destructive power of a tsunami in action. The God we serve created those things, and His power surpasses them. This knowledge should empower us to stand firm in the face of fear… but we forget!
Know for certain God has the power of life and death both here and in eternity. Have faith like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who allowed their knowledge of God to overpower their fear:
“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
~ Daniel 3:17-18 NASB
Look at their confidence in the power of Almighty God! They believed He could and would save them, but also said they would obey even if He chose not to deliver them.
Do we have such a faith?
What we know about God impacts every choice we make. If we believe God is not just, or even unloving then we are worshipping a false god of our own making, just like those ancient Greeks.
And we know how God feels about idolatry…
(hint: he really hates it!!!)
This is part 2 in the series, “Why Does It Matter What I Believe?”
To read the previous post, click here.