Why the God You See Isn’t the God You Need

The Key to Discovering the One True God

If I asked 10 people to explain how they see God, I’d probably get 10 different answers. Whether you’re religious or atheist, liberal or conservative, prosperous or homeless, you tend to see him a little differently than the next guy. So how do we find a God we can all agree on?

As a former Army soldier and an experienced technology professional (I guess that makes me a veteran nerd), I’ve been subjected to more acronyms than I can possibly remember.

DASD, MOS, COBOL, RAID, AAFES—and a host of others that you couldn’t possibly care about.

One of my favorites is the computer acronym WYSIWYG (pronounced whiz-ee-wig), which stands for “what you see is what you get.” It’s just fun to say.


Back in the 80s and 90s, if you wanted bold text in a computer document, you inserted a special code and the computer would print it that way. But on the screen, you only saw that funky code. It didn’t look bold at all.

Then along came fancy programs like Microsoft Word and voila! The text on the screen looked the same as the printed version—with no ugly codes to clutter the page.

WYSIWYG. What you see is what you get.

When it comes to the subject of God, the WYSIWYG concept is pretty accurate—what you see really is what you get. You and I see God a certain way in our minds and that image becomes reality for us. But that’s where the problem lies.

Because what you need is the real God?

The God You Think You See

When you think about God, what do you see? Or rather, who do you see?

Lots of people claim to believe in the same God, but often view him in very different ways. Then there are those who don’t believe in God. They have a particular view of him as well.

Who are these gods? Well, here are just a few:

  • The “Norma Bates” God. If you’ve seen the movie Psycho or the TV series Bates Motel, you’re well acquainted with Norma. She’s distant and irrational—if not a wee bit unhinged. Many people see God this way, too.
  • The “R. Lee Ermey” God. Remember the drill instructor in Full Metal Jacket? That’s Ermey—a harsh and unbending taskmaster who has a set of rules that shall not be broken. When I was younger, I knew this God quite well.
  • The “Jeffrey Dahmer” God. This infamous serial killer from Milwaukee savagely murdered, and in some cases consumed, 17 people. Based on all the evil in our world, many people view God as an equally brutal monster.
  • The “Kris Jenner” God. The Kardashian matriarch is a permissive, “anything goes” kind of mom—who’s not above leveraging her kids for her own benefit. Is God a self-absorbed, “anything goes” kind of deity? In some people’s minds, yes.

There are more, but you get the picture. People see God in a variety of ways. So how do we find a God everyone can agree on? Is that even possible?

The God You Need To See

Sometimes the answers to difficult questions are surprisingly simple. James Bryan Smith, an author and professor at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas, had this to say in his book, The Good and Beautiful God:

“No one knows God or the nature and meaning of life more than Jesus. Jesus’ narratives are the truth. So the key is adopting Jesus’ narratives. To know the God of Jesus is to know the truth about who God really is.”

The Bible says that people are created in the image of God. But far too often, our image of God is something of our own creation. A God who is little more than a combination of our experiences, ideas, and feelings.

I agree with Smith. My ideas and opinions about who God is are imperfect. So are yours. Only Jesus can be trusted to know the one true God.

The God you need to see can only be seen through Jesus.

How well do you know the God Jesus knows?

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