Do You Have to Go to Church to Learn About God? And Other Puzzling Questions About God

Tough questions about God can sometimes lead to confusing, long-winded explanations filled with copious Bible quotes that can make your head swim. Jesus was a simple man so the truth about God should be simple too. Here are a few tough questions answered in plain language.


Q. What does it mean when someone says they're saved?


A. For some reason people are afraid of the word "saved." Being saved basically means you are no longer separated from God. I think the term conjures up feelings of weakness for some people. Like someone has to rescue them from themselves, and as Americans, we are into the idea of self-sufficiency. We are being saved from the grip of the devil and from our own poor choices. No matter how strong you are, you can't beat Satan on your own.


Q. Do you have to go to church to have a relationship with God?

A. No. The Bible is very clear that you can have a relationship with God without organized religion. We are told to worship God in groups of two or more though; church happens to be where others worshiping God hang out! So even the most stressed out, overly scheduled family can always make time for God right in their own living room.


Q. It's hard to not sin. Does God punish us if we don't do what we're supposed to?

A. No. God is very forgiving. We don't get to go to heaven because we are good. We get to go to heaven by accepting his son, Jesus, as our personal savior. God acim  requires a lot less of us than we think he does. Most people think you have to be perfect to be loved by God. On the contrary, God loves us the most when we are at our weakest. That's when he can help us the most. God is all about helping us.


Q. What's the difference between believing God exists and believing in God?


A. Most people, even atheists, believe God or some higher being exists. They believe this simply because there are things that cannot be easily explained by science. This is believing God exists. Believing in God is harder to do because we have to release who we are, and all of our earthly expectations, to even consider a God capable of knowing our every move, thoughts and feelings; a God who knows our entire existence. God never looks away from us. We can't escape the notice of God no matter how far we run or how well we hide. God is always present and always totally focused on each one of us. This is too much for most people to grasp so they choose just to believe God exists, otherwise they would need to respond to God more often. The bottom line is that believing God means giving up personal control to let God run your life. Most of us simply can't handle that idea.

Q. What can God give us that we don't already have?


A. God gives us the things we can't get for ourselves. The things we seek in other people like love, mercy, kindness, compassion, forgiveness and unconditional love. These are the kinds of things we can't earn by working harder. Someone else has to give them to us. And if you've lived five minutes in this world you know you can't count on getting those things from other people. God also gives us health, wealth, wisdom, comfort, knowledge, compassion, understanding and so much more. Surprisingly, God does this through our interactions with other people. Ever had something happen that made you think, "Wow, what a coincidence?" There aren't any coincidences. God lines up everything for you when he wants something to happen in your life. You may choose to ignore it but God will open the door for you; you still have to do the walking!

Q. How is God's love different from love between a man and woman or a parent and child?


A. God loves us without boundaries or conditions. Since all humans are flawed, we can't love someone without putting judgments and conditions on one other. Most parents think they love their children unconditionally, but if they did a little honest soul-searching they would have to admit their kids are easier to love when they behave and get good grades. And, most parents will admit they love one of their children more than another. Humans choose every day who they will or will not love. Very few people choose to love the dirty homeless man they pass every day on the way to their office. God can see past our outward appearances and into our hearts. God loves us simply because we exist. We never have to prove ourselves worthy of his love.

Q. The Bible is full of incredible miracles. Does God still perform miracles?.


A. Absolutely, they may not be of biblical proportions like in the old days-no parting of the Red Sea, walking through fire, being saved from the lion's den type miracles-but they still happen. It's not because God can't pull those off, it's because in the Old Testament God was trying to convince a large group of doubters that he could do what he said he could do so he needed to make a big show. After making the new covenant with us, God now performs personal miracles for each of us. Occasionally you'll read in the newspaper about someone who survived unbelievably harsh conditions or who was in a horrendous accident and walked away without a scratch. These are God's miracles today. God does lots of little miracles or favors for us every day too. When you get all green lights when you're late for that important meeting, that was God working for you. There are no coincidences.