I was on Twitter today and came across a post that stopped me in my tracks. It reflected on how negative we can define God to be, especially if we do not see him as personally loving us. Our view of God is immensely important. Just as a positive view can shape our views to see what is good in people, a negative view of God can become toxic and make us see what is negative about others. It is not good news and that right there should tell us something.
I think it’s fair to say a negatively communicated view of God will permeate into how we act and think of others through God’s eyes. In a word it’s not very otherly nor is it spiritual. The bible call us to spiritually discern all things and that includes putting our radar up for people. It’s called the gift of discernment. But even so, discernment is not a license to be critical or judgmental toward others, it’s only a tool for our private use when interacting with others.
How our view of God works
If we view God as someone in heaven wringing his hands, angry and frustrated over the behavior of others, we will think that is how he thinks of his people and it demonstrates that we have not received or internalized his grace and love as much as we think we have. We’ll look at the world through God’s “judgmental” eyes (as we assign it) and think, “God hates that. He’s got to be angry about that.” The fact is, we hate it. We dislike it and we spiritualize the negative behavior and project it to be God’s so we’ll feel better about ourselves. Often time, the judgment we feel is of ourselves and it makes us feel better when we can take others down a notch. And if we tend toward these negatives, then it is us who is in need of an upgrade, not the subjects of our ire.
Aligning our view of God with heaven
God is not shocked by people’s behavior. Our sins don’t shock Him, our judgment doesn’t shock Him, even our perceived goodness and righteousness doesn’t shock Him because God is focused on and looking at who we are becoming. He is future-minded when it comes to you because He knows that with your cooperation, you can become the amazing person that He made you to be. Therefore in that sense, He is not stuck in our past or present, brewing about who we’re not. Remember, love covers a multitude of sins and God has perfect love that drives out all fear. Negativity is the product of fear. Some of that can be productive fear (as in the fear of God leads to wisdom), but much more of it tends toward judgmental fear that we learned from religion and not God – and we can know the difference if we are attempting to cast it onto others. In a sense, we don’t think of other as “saved” as much as we consider ourselves and often it manifests in a negative sign or social media post.
What this gets back to is our ability to read the word of God for others and ask ourselves if we really believe it. Do we really believe that it is the kindness of God that leads men to repentance (Rom 2:4)? If so, then there’s no place for judgment in anything we do when speaking to non-believers. He is not the fire and brimstone God that he has been poorly portrayed to be by those controlled by a hyper-critical religious spirit.
If our view of God is angry and judgmental, we will operate from a critical spirit. And when our view of God is that he is just, kind, loving, gracious, always patient with us, then we should reflect that heart in our treatment of others. This is not to suggest that our view of God defines him as much as it defines us. If our view focuses on the God that had to uphold the law of the Old Testament, then that’s the legalistic God you serve. But the reality is that God sent his Son to die for us and He established a New Covenant with us – a covenant of love, grace and mercy until the day we die. So while our view of God matters most to those we are attempting to disciple, it also matters for us.
So next time, when reading the scriptures ask yourself, when it comes to me, is God loving? Is He patient? Is He kind? Did He put an envious spirit into me so that I’ll be critical of others? Do I think He is asking me to dishonor someone? If we see God as someone who says what He means, then He is not cursing or hating you. And if he is not cursing or hating you, then he’s not doing that to others because He is love. He sent Jesus to carry the weight of all sin and therefore there is no room for a negative, critical spirits. Jesus did not come to condemn the world but to save it (John 3:17). He is not honored in our dishonor of another using these tactics because we are supposed to be spiritual and use weapons of warfare that are not carnal (2 Cor. 10:4). He is not shown kind in our lack of kindness. And He is not demonstrated as patient in our impatience.
If viewing God as angry produces anger in you than receiving that God is loving, patient and kind should produce love, patience and kindness from you as well. Seeing God for who He says He is will change us from the inside out and it’s high time it did. So let’s get on with actually believing what we’re already reading in God’s word and start becoming true love ambassadors of the faith that we all profess to have in Christ – once and for all.