Members of the Church often emphasize the importance of having a correct knowledge about the nature of God--a correct idea of His character, perfections and attributes. Perhaps the testimonies about: knowing that God lives; that He is a corporeal being; that He not a trinity but instead multiple and distinct beings--come from this emphasizing.
But I've been noticing that though perhaps they say these things on an intellectual level, that most of the people I have met do not truly understand God.
A question I ask any time I get the chance is, "What would you do if you were to meet God right now, this very instant? How would you feel? What would you think?"
I have yet to get an answer that does not fall among the following lines:
-I would be embarrassed.
-I wouldn't be prepared or ready.
-I would be frightened.
-I didn't repent this morning, I can't meet God!
Bottom line, it doesn't sound like a pleasant experience for them.
That makes me very uneasy. It is so wrong. I don't think that all those people have any real bearing on the true nature of God at all.
Let me give you a little history on my path in coming to understand what I call "God" in my life. All through high school, with my various self-esteem and self-image issues, I think I was terrified of God. I felt I was not acceptable to him, that I was broken and I was in that same boat of being scared with the idea of meeting God. I was filled with guilt and saw myself as a sinner.
One day (the third Sunday of 2008), I was sitting in my dorm room at about 11:30 at night, and I just broke down. I slowly began to cry, which turned quickly into sobbing. This was unusual, for I couldn't remember the last time I had dripped even more than just one tear. At the risk of being embarrassed by being seen by my roommates, I ran outside and sat underneath the bell tower. There, I just sat and wept for a long time. It was a total catharsis. Somewhere during this time, I suddenly felt filled with the love of God, and his grace.
On the one hand, I had these rules that the Church had told me that made me feel like a bad person and then suddenly being so overwhelmed with the love of God and feeling, for the very first time in my life, that I was alright in the eyes of God. I could be loved and accepted just as I was. Somehow, all those Church rules didn't seem to matter. I was in the middle of this experience that made me know I was okay as a person, and the Church had never made me feel this way. I had previously only felt judged and condemned and that because I didn't line up in a certain way that I was not okay.
Suddenly it was clear that the love of God was bigger than all of that. God's love is simply enough. It was an incredible transformation. For someone who is feeling so lost and so much self-loathing, it is so sublime to know that nothing matters except that God loves me, and that alone is enough.
Does God live or does he not? Does God have a body or not? Did he appear to Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove or not?
Do those questions really ascertain the truly important aspects of God's character? To me, no. I find them terribly dissatisfying.
What good is "knowing" that the corporeal nature of God doing for them? OK, so maybe it gives them support for the belief that man can become god, or whatever. But really on a deep down transformative level, what good has it done them? Has it brought on this transformation that I was able to experience? Has it allowed them to know that God loves them?
I feel that I should be seeking to develop my mind and have more compassion and treat my fellow man with more charity and be working on these larger spiritual matters, not being focused on keeping all the rules like so many Church members do. All those little things can be wiped away in a second.
Now if I were to ask myself, "How would you react if you were to meet God right now?" I can say: All I know is that He would take me into his arms. (If he does indeed have a body ;) ) Say "I missed you, I've longed to see you, and I love you." And that in that moment I would be okay. I would feel whole and complete, and all of those other little things--have I repented of this?, repented of that?, could i have done more of this and less of that-- those things would not even come up on the radar. Because the power of the grace of god is too often overlooked in the Church, exchanged for the importance of works. I would not be nervous. I would be completely at ease, and I would look forward to finally getting to ask God some important questions.