Do you sometimes get the sense that your students, knowingly or not, are creating God in their own image? Is their view of God more a composite of the characteristics they want Him to have, rather than a view grounded in Scripture?
Or to put it another way, have they bought into Starbucks spirituality?
Let me explain. Our students inhabit a world that mixes spiritual beliefs like Starbucks mixes lattes, customized to one’s personal specifications. It’s very tempting to buy into that mindset…after all, humans have been doing it for thousands of years.
In some ways, this phenomenon is a replay of the Israelites in the Old Testament who frequently and repeatedly distorted their view of the one, true God with false gods from other nations.
Hmmm, who was that wise man who once said, “there’s nothing new under the sun?”
The Stakes Are Sky High
But is custom-designing our view of God into who we want Him to be actually a big deal? You bet. Because it assumes that it doesn’t matter what you believe, only that you truly believe in something. And it buys into the whole “that may be true for you, but my truth is different.”
And that creates all sorts of problems. Here are just a few:
- Souls hang in the balance. Jesus challenged the “whole truth is relative” attitude when He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
- It impacts our knowing Him and making Him know. As we seek to know God, make Him known and follow Him, a Biblical grasp of what He’s truly like is foundational. The “character of God” is what makes up who He is as God, what He’s about and what He wants from us. It gives as glimpse into why He acts and speaks in certain ways. Understanding His character is an important key to developing a deeper, stronger relationship with Him and helps us as we introduce others to Him.
- It messes up our walk with Him. The more distorted our view of God, the more likely we are to end up in damaging and destructive places as we move through life—we’ve all seen the wreckage. Because the less we know about God, the less we understand how He is working in our lives—so we get confused. The more we know Him for who He truly is, the more we trust Him. The more we trust Him, the easier it is to grow in our relationship with Him and handle the challenging circumstances of life.
So what are some of the essential truths about God’s character that your students need to grasp as they seek to know Him and make Him known?
Building a Foundation
The following 10 characteristics of God are a great starting place. Consider doing a Bible study with your students or student leaders about God’s character to get them firmly grounded in these core truths about our God.
- God is eternal (Genesis 21:33) – He always has been and always will be. He never had a beginning and will never have an end.
- God is unchanging (James 1:17) – God’s nature and character will always be the same. He is totally reliable, stable and unchanging.
- God is everywhere (Psalm 139:7-12) – Not that He is “in everything,” but His awareness covers all places and all times. There is not one molecule on the remotest part of the Universe that is out of His field of vision.
- God is sovereign (Ephesians 1:8) – He is the ruler of all the universe – “cosmic King” – for eternity. Everything and everyone is ultimately under His control. Even Satan must get permission from Him to do certain things (Job 1, 2).
- God is all knowing (Matthew 11:21) – God knows all actual and possible things. He knows what was, what is, what will be and what could be. There are no mysteries to Him. He knows everything about you. He knows what you are like and what you will be like in the future. He knows more about you than you do.
- God is all powerful (Revelation 19:6) – There is no being more powerful. If you brought all the creatures in the universe together and collectively tapped their strength, their strength would be nothing compared to God’s strength. He is infinitely more powerful than anything and anyone!
- God is love (1 John 4:16) – this means that God is motivated by unselfish and pure concern. “For God so loved the world that He gave…” (John 3:16.) Because God loves, God freely gives forgiveness and salvation.
- God is holy (1 John 1:5) – He is completely separate from anything sinful, because sin is anything contrary to God’s nature and character. Therefore all the other attributes of God are tempered by His holiness. His justice is holy. His love is holy. His wisdom is holy…and so on.
- God is Triune: Father, Son and Spirit (Matthew 28:19) – God is one God, yet He exists in the form of three persons: Father, Son (Jesus) and Holy Spirit. Each person in the Trinity is distinct from the others, but all are a part of the One True God described in the Bible.
- God is Savior (Luke 19:10, Ephesians 2:8-9) – “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Jesus is Savior and extends the offer of salvation to all who put their trust in Him.
The Bible makes it clear that the character of God is not up for grabs depending on one’s spiritual latte order. Let’s get our teenagers grounded with a solid Biblical understanding of His character. It will yield immeasurable fruit as they seek to know Him and make Him known.