Theres an SNL skit where Sally Field plays a character named Tina who prays about everything. She prays that God would help her daughter with her algebra testthat God would protect her husband as he starts the carthat God would be with her as she vacuums the stairsshe even asks God to keep the rice from sticking. One day as shes in the kitchen, Jesus appears and asks if she could perhaps not pray so much. Tina wants to please Jesus, but shes confused. What prayers should she cut out? Should she stop praying about her daughters education? Or her husbands safety? Need to Know God Better? As her confusion and distress mounts, Jesus realizes this might have been a bad idea. So he rewinds time to the moment just before he appeared, and Tina goes back to her laundry list of prayers blissfully unaware theyre driving God batty. If youve never seen the skit before, here it is:
Its a funny bit. (Maybe a little condescending to Christians, but humorous nonetheless.) It also raises an interesting question: What is God like? Does he want us to pray to him? Does it ever annoy him to have so many people pestering him about so many things? Is he even capable of experiencing emotion?
Our New Series: What Is God Like?
Those are the sort of questions were going to ask in our new series as we take a closer look at Gods nature. To some that may sound like a purely academic subject. After all, if you look at any systematic theology textbook, theres a good chance the nature of God is the first chapter.
But this isnt a subject for scholars only. All of us have some sort of view of what God is like. The only question is whether our view of God corresponds with reality.
The Danger of Having Wrong Ideas About God
Imagine a husband sees his wife as a type-A personality and adrenaline junkie who is driven to reach the top of her field and loves climbing the tallest mountains and racing the fastest cars. In reality, though, she is very laid back and would love nothing more than to be able to stay home with the kids. Moreover, she has never given mountain climbing or racing a second thought. What would she think if she knew her husbands image of her missed the mark so badly? Shed certainly think he didnt know her very well. She might also conclude he didnt really love her. He may think he loves her, but in reality hes in love with another woman one who doesnt really exist.
We face a similar danger when it comes to our thoughts about God. Is the God we believe we know the One True God or merely a god who doesnt really exist?
Thats a particularly important question for Christians. God calls us into a relationship with him. Yet the further our image of God diverges from what he is actually like, the harder it is for us to claim we genuinely know him. We love and serve God. But, at some point, if our view of God sufficiently misses the mark, were really loving and serving another god. Thats not a matter to take lightly.
The Goal of This Series
The goal of this series then is to bring our image of God in line with his true nature. Well touch on a number of challenging questions such as:
1. What is the Trinity?
2. Does God exist outside of time?
3. Can God change his mind?
But the goal of this study isnt simply to supply you with more information about God. The hope is that, when were done, youll be able to say you truly know him better.
Where We Go From Here
Thats the goal. But is it possible? Theologians talk about God being transcendent. By that they mean God is greater than us in every conceivable way. If thats true, isnt he beyond our ability to understand? Can we, as mere humans, hope to ever really know God? Thats an important question that goes to the very heart of our faith, and its the topic well tackle next time as we begin to delve into our study of God in earnest.