One day, I was having a conversation with a family member about the understanding of God, and she made this declaration: “I do not believe anyone should try to understand God–it is not meant to be.” I wonder how many people share this viewpoint. As I contemplated the idea, I recollected at some point in my life I also believed the impossibility of understanding God. Now, I wonder how one can have faith in, or serve a God whom he has little or no knowledge of? And if one has faith, is it a blind faith?
This article will reveal two key ingredients relative to the understanding of God:
- Not only is God understandable, He created man to express all that He is.
- The nature of man is based on his ability to demonstrate the nature of God.
According to Webster, understanding means “to get or perceive the meaning of; know or grasp what is meant by.” Using this definition, is it possible to know God? Can one get a meaning of who God is? I answer both questions with a resounding “Yes!” However, if I were asked Is it possible to know all or everything about God? My response would have to be in the negative. What is the difference between the questions? That is the crux of this article! However, before diving into why one question gets a “yes” and the other a “no,” it is essential that another question is answered:
What is God?
“God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 465). The writer of this statement is Mary Baker Eddy, discoverer and founder of Christian Science. Let’s analyze the statement, and decide if we can agree with some or all of it. She says “God is incorporeal.” What does that mean? Incorporeal means bodiless; that which does not consist of matter or material substance. Hm-m-m, can you imagine God as having a giant physical body–a body so gigantic that it contains all of mankind and the physical universe? Does that fit the picture of God you have in mind? Or, do you think of God as Spirit–having no body, or anything else composed of matter?
Next, Mrs. Eddy says, God is “divine, infinite, supreme.” Divine is the opposite of human, so is He divine or human? I choose divine. What do you choose? If you chose human, what is the basis of your belief? It is not essential that you convince me of what you believe, but it is essential of what you convince yourself. “Infinite” means unlimited–that which is immeasurable, endless, without boundaries. Do these words describe your perception of God? What about “supreme?” Can anyone or anything top God? I say, “No!” What do you say? What about “God is in all, above all, and all-encompassing?” God is Almighty–without an equal! The latter part of Mary Baker Eddy’s explanation of God uses seven synonyms to describe God’s all-ness: Mind , Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life. Truth, Love. Each reveals the nature of God in its own special way. Yet, one is incomplete without the others.
God is Mind–the One and Only Mind, and this Mind is divine intelligence, wisdom and understanding. There is nothing that this Mind does not know, comprehend or understand, but since God is divine, everything He knows is good and pure. Man, being made in His “image and likeness,” expresses that wisdom, intelligence, perception and reasoning ability. Thus, man has the capacity to understand His Creator, God.
God is Spirit, and Spirit is the opposite of matter, yet, Spirit is the only substance. If Spirit is the only substance, matter has no being, it is only supposition. Therefore, everything that does not express the qualities of Spirit has no reality. Attributes of Spirit are spirituality, faith, hope, abundance, purity, unfoldment and obedience. Trees, houses, clouds, stars and human bodies are not made of these qualities, and cannot express the substance of Spirit. Spirit is incomprehensible to the physical senses! Uniting with Spirit, transforms one into a mental atmosphere of calmness, serenity, peace and deep inner strength.
God is Soul, and Soul is the opposite of sense. The five senses are physical, and are used to create a world of reality for mortal man. He says, “I saw it, thus it is real.” Soul, on the other hand, identifies reality as those things that are metaphysical–that which is beyond the senses. The question arises, How do you know what you believe is real, if it is not measurable or identifiable? It is identifiable and measurable, it is just done through Soul, not sense. Man reflects or expresses Soul through higher levels of consciousness. Have you ever watched a sunset that allowed you to mentally see beauty far beyond what your eyes were observing, or heard a musical composition that touched something beyond anything the body was feeling? This gives you an example of what it means to communicate with God, Soul. You hear a voice, but no one is speaking, or you see perfection, but no physical form is near. How does this happen? Jesus said it best, “The kingdom of heaven is within you.”
God is Principle, and Principle is divine law. Divine Law is absolute, unchangeable, just, perfect and equal. There are no deviations, it is constant, because it is God. Man’s laws do not eclipse the depth of Principle. They are mere glimpses of its power and strength. Let’s look at a very simple law put forth by Jesus: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” What is Jesus saying? He’s telling us that unless all evil is absent from consciousness or thought, do not expect to be connected mentally to God, and if you do not connect, do not expect to be blessed. Wow! That is an unchangeable law! I know there are those of us who think otherwise, but in reality, it simply does not happen. Most of you have experienced moments in your lives where you know, without a doubt, that you have touched the face of God. It is these moments that help us understand God better. Will we ever know all that there is to know of God? I respond, No! There is only one God, and He/She is all-knowing. This does not preclude us from understanding Him, however. I ask you, “Do you understand how to perform the work that your job entails?” Most of us will respond in the affirmative, but does that mean you understand every single thing that that job could entail? Most of us would respond in the negative? The more we serve God, communicate with Him, and form a relationship with Him, the more we understand how He operates in our lives. Thus, we learn to trust Him with every human need. Those who understand Him least, trust Him least.
God is Life, and Life is not in matter. Why can’t God be in fleshly bodies, trees, buildings, or mountains? Being infinite, God cannot dwell in the finite, and since He is Spirit and the only substance, matter has no reality. Life has no beginning or ending, thus Life is eternal. It is that which has always been, that which exists now, and continues to exist in the future. Conversely, matter does begin and end, live and die, and change– enlarging or diminishing itself. None of these expressions, however, define the nature of God. Thus, one can conclude that Life is not synonymous with matter. Life can only be recognized and demonstrated by divine qualities–qualities like courage, strength, movement, joy, activity and immortality.
God is Truth, and Truth destroys error or sin. What is truth? It is a another name for God, and is divine knowledge or intelligence. It is everything God knows, and if God does not know it, it is not true. The presence of truth destroys all that is untrue. One cannot exist where the other resides. One disappears when the other appears. Thus, truth does not have to know evil or error in order to uncover or destroy it. Qualities that express truth are honesty, integrity, honor, freedom, unchangeableness and stability. Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” What is this freedom? It is freedom from human desires and suffering–freedom from anger, bitterness, fear, lack, or any of the other myriad forms of evil.
God is Love, and Love destroys fear. Why is this so important? Fear is one of the main causes of sin, sickness and death. It creeps into our consciousnesses unnoticed–spreading evil suggestions and controlling thought. It gives us reasons to hate our neighbors, steal from our friends, cheat on our spouses, and kill our brothers. How do you get rid of it?
The Bible informs that ” love conquers fear.” If you love your neighbor, why would you fear him? Fear is based on lack of understanding, preconceived ideas, or false identification. The essential ingredient of love is that it is unconditional. It remains love under all situations and conditions–which means, it may not be reciprocated. Human love expects love to be returned. Divine Love remains love because that is the only relationship it knows. Thus, if we are expressions of God, Love, we have to do the same.
Another ingredient of love is its ability to “chasten” or purify. It dissolves hate, forgives the unforgivable, and removes lustful desires. Grasping this concept of love takes lots of practice, and makes many human sacrifices. Why would one want to do this? To gain a greater understanding of God.
Can man understand God?
Moses tells us in the first chapter of Genesis that “God created man in his own image” (1:27). An image is a likeness of the original, but not the original. God is all intelligence, and man expresses this intelligence because he is made in the image of God. Understanding is an attribute of divine intelligence, giving man the capacity to understand that which is divine. God is divine, thus man understands God. This understanding does not come from man, but from God. It is man’s inheritance from his Father-Mother God. Human knowledge does not lead to an understanding of God because it is not true knowledge–knowledge gained through inspiration, revelation and meditation. Human knowledge locks man into that which is only perceived by the senses–psychology, physiology and all ologies relying on physical touch, taste, sight, smell and hearing.
Can you know everything there is to know about God? No!
Again, I refer you to Moses in Deuteronomy: “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord” (6:4). There is only One God, and this precludes the idea that man can ever know everything God knows. God is all-knowing, all encompassing, and almighty! Man is simply one of God’s thoughts or ideas. Everything that exists was created by God, and expresses God. The universe of Spirit consists not of atoms, molecules, gases or liquids, but infinite ideas expressing the nature of God–His godliness. Jesus’ knowledge of this divine law, gave him the ability to calm the tempest with a simple “Peace be still.” A greater faith and understanding of God gives us the same capacity to do as Jesus did. How do I know this? He told us so! His promise also was that we could do “greater works than these.” Do you believe he lied to us?
Understanding God is developed through prayer, honest communication, faith, hope, patience, persistence and perseverance. God loves us. He never withholds Himself from His children. Begin today with one simple idea: “I can understand God, and I know He will show me how.” The steps maybe be slow, but steady if we keep in the pathway of truth. Always start with God–seek to understand Him seven different ways: Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth and Love, and you will win!
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