Once Jesus asked who people said He was and there was a wide diversity of opinions: Elijah, one of the prophets from of old, even John the Baptist who had returned from the grave. Finally, the Prince of the Apostles, and he who would become the 1st Pope—St. Peter nailed it: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!”
Today, floating in the theological circles of speculation, are many views of God. Our vision of God obviously will affect our relationship to Him as well as our relationship to others. The following are among the most common erroneous visions of God and then briefly we will specify the True God.
First, The Good-Natured Grandpa in the Sky. What is this false concept? Well, it is simply this: Many believe that God is like a doting and indulgent and rich grandpa type in the sky who is always ready and willing to cater to our capricious desires immediately and abundantly. We might even call this vision of God the “Glorified Bell-hop!” You know that well-groomed and ready worker in front of the expensive Hotel that is ready to cater to you upon demand, of course expecting a generous tip. Or you might even see this vision of God as Santa Claus. There He is in heaven ready to shower you with gifts—as soon as you want and as many as you like. Finally, this God can be compared to the genie in the bottle. If you rub then the genie will come out and grant you your wish! This can be seen in many who make Novenas to God, Mary and the saints; then they expect on the 9th day that what they have been praying for will be granted on that day. If it does not happen then they doubt both the goodness of God and even His mere existence.
Second, The Angry and Vindictive God. Years ago there was the Protestant fire and brimstone preacher named Jonathan Edwards. He preached a vindictive God ready to condemn and chastise upon the slightest fault or transgression. He depicted the human person like a spider hanging from a mere thread and hanging over a fiery pit. Upon the first transgression this small thread would be broken and the spider (really the human person) would precipitate into the fiery pit of hell for all eternity. In other words, this is a God of strict and cold Justice—no mercy to say the least!
Third, Deism: The Impersonal God. The God of the deist is one who launches the world into existence and leaves it there to fend for itself. Therefore, the human person is part of the cog in the wheel of the impersonal universe. However, God is totally impersonal. He will never intervene to help the human person even in his must personal and desperate need. The great Greek philosopher, Aristotle, called God the Unmoved Mover.
Fourth, The Vision of Islam. God is the supreme Master and the human person is a mere slave. There is no real personal and tender relationship between this God and man.
Fifth, The God of Wealth and Prosperity. This is a most prevalent vision among certain Protestant groups in America. One of the surest signs that we are on God’s side and He is on our side is that of prosperity. The making of money and the accumulating of material possessions are all very clear signs that God’s blessings are definitely upon us, according to this view. In other words the more money you make and the more money you have saved in the bank, then the more clear it is that God is pleased with you.
A True Vision of God
Having briefly summarized five erroneous visions of God, let us portray the true vision of God. The way we think, act and become depends directly on “who” God really is for us!
God is both one and three and very personal. We believe in one God, but three distinct Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. What then is our relationship to these three distinct but equal Persons that we title the Most Blessed Trinity?
Father. God is a loving, tender, caring, concerned and compassionate Father to us. His love never changes even despite our many sins and failures. On one occasion an Indian Moslem was converted to Catholicism. What moved this convert most was the fact that God was not a distant master and slave-driver, but rather a tender and loving Father that could even be called in the most tender fashion daddy! In other words a God that we can cuddle up to His Heart and embrace Him and he embraces us—Remember the most famous Parable in the world: the Parable of the Prodigal Son or we might even call it the Parable of the Merciful Father. (Luke 15: 11-32). This Father was willing to embrace, kiss, and shower down mercy upon is repentant son.
Son. Not only is God the Father, but He is also God the Son and His name is Jesus! The relationship of Jesus to us is that of an elder brother and friend. However, He is the best of all brothers, having a love for us that goes beyond our wildest imagination. This was proved by His willingness to be nailed to the cross and shed every drop of His precious Blood to save our souls for all eternity. Jesus is the best of Brothers and he is always at our side to walk with us through life as was witnessed by the disciples on the road to Emmaus. (Luke 24:13-25)
Holy Spirit. Who then is the Holy Spirit in our lives? Many titles can be given to the third Person of the Blessed Trinity, but we would like to offer the following—Our Friend in God. In a world in which so many people suffer a desperate and a crushing loneliness. At times we might feel as if we are all alone and nobody real understands us and much less cares for us, there is great hope: the presence of the Holy Spirit and the ever-present and welcoming friend. He is a Friend that is ever present and willing to console us in the dark moments as we walk and stumble through this valley of tears.
Finally, remember Mary. May Our Lady who is the Daughter of God the Father, the Mother of God the Son and the Mystical Spouse of God the Holy Spirit intercede for us so that we might have an ever-deepening, personal and loving relationship to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen