Suppose you hear about this amazing family, the Joneses. You keep your eyes and ears open, hoping to meet them. Eventually you realize you have friends in common. Over time you notice the things they tell you about the Joneses are not so good. Joe Jones feels up young women, Mary Jones is a cougar on the prowl, the kids vary from just weird to downright mean. You lose interest in the Jones family; you've already had way too many people like that in your life (one is way too many, right?)
A year or so later you realize your friends Smiths are the Jones' cousins, and Jim and Bertie Weems are Joe's God-parents, and they paint a different picture. You realize the neighbors had their own issues, which caused them to project things onto the Joneses. Maybe they aren't so bad, even if they aren't what you originally hoped (you are, after all, still feeling cautious. Once burned twice shy!) After a while, though, you realize the Joneses still sound a bit sketchy. Joe might be stealing office supplies. Mary is always hanging out with the teenagers next door, even though there's no rumors of anything really bad. The kids seem awfully doped, like maybe they're on dope.
Somehow you end up at a party with the Jones. And they're just really nice people. When they hug you it feels good-- and totally safe. Right off the bat, Joe seems to get who you are. Mary talks about the things that matter to you. Their kids and yours teach each other new games you want to join in. A week later when they hear you all have the flu, they come to your house with chicken soup and crackers. They do your laundry. Mary cleans the toilet while Jim does the huge pile of dishes. A month later one of your kids mentions your sister and her kids having to move to a womens' shelter and the Joneses send clothes, books, toys, and a check. You realize the Smiths and Weems, though closer than those first neighbors, also didn't quite get who the Joneses really are. Their own problems distorted their view.
Who are the Joneses? Good people. The best. Instant family. They love you, they care for you, they're there for you.
And that's pretty much how I met God. And later Bethel.
Don't judge a book by the books around it. Don't judge God (or other people) by the people who claim to know them. Get to know them yourself. You won't be sorry.