I think we would probably be amazed if we asked a roomful of Christians what their impression of God was like. Of course, you would need to do it privately, or you wouldn't get honest answers. But I imagine that the responses would sound something like this: "God is my Daddy figure. I can go to Him with anything"; "God loved me enough to send His Son as a sacrifice for my sins, and I owe Him for that"; "God is in control of everything in my life -- if He didn't cause something bad to happen, He at least allowed it"; and "God is a powerful, yet distant Ruler. I don't know if He even knows I exist. I've never felt His presence".
As you can see, there is quite a wide range of perspectives when it comes to how Christians perceive the God they profess to worship -- and this only covers a small fraction of our perception of Him. But I would think that, at the very least, Christians could agree that God is Good, right? After all, I think we've all grown up with the cartoon images of God in a white robe and the devil in a red jumpsuit with horns and pitchfork... with the idea that God represents Good and the Devil is the purveyor of Evil.
But man's traditions aside, Scripture tells us in Psalm 100, Give thanks to Him, bless His name, For the Lord is good. And David speaks of God's "goodness and mercy" that will follow him all the days of his life in Psalm 23. Then there is Titus 3:4-5, which states, But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us. God's goodness is well-established in the Bible -- throughout both the Old and New Testament; by His acts and those of His Son, Jesus.
Yet, to paraphrase A.W. Tozer, how we think about God can affect our relationship with Him, and is one of the most important things in our Christian walk. It is amazing to me how many Christians have a problem with seeing God as Good. And I have met some who are even offended by that statement! Typically, someone they have loved has suffered from cancer, died from a prolonged disease, or were the victim of some tragedy. And they are simply unable to see God as good, loving, or merciful in that situation.
Somehow, they have convinced themselves that if God were truly Good, then those events wouldn't have happened. They don't want to come right out and blame God for the adversity in their life, and if you ask them, "Do you think God caused that, or made that happen?", they are likely to answer with indignation, "Well, I don't really know ... BUT...". If they can't go so far as to say God was the source of the bad situation in their life, they will say that He allowed it. And then the next sentence is usually ... "Just like He did with Job". But we aren't in the same situation as Job was. He didn't have Jesus, who is our Mediator, and who has taught us how to defeat the works of the Enemy.
Furthermore, God is not the source of evil or bad things... the Devil is. And he has been the source of evil from the beginning. Those who are confused about God's goodness will often use the argument that God causes or allows evil/bad things to happen so He can display His mercy. But think how twisted that is! Would a Good Father break a child's arm (or watch His enemy break it) just so He could comfort him (show him mercy) and then use His ability to reset the broken bone so it could be said of Him that He restored His child's health?
If I may, I'd like to quote Pastor Bill Johnson: "Today a large part of the Body of Christ believes God either sends sickness, or allows it, to make us better people by building character and teaching us the value of suffering [like Jesus]. But, if God allows sickness, can we still call the devil a thief? After all, if the thief has permission to steal, it is no longer called stealing. Yet Acts 10:38 tells us God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him... Remember, healing is not just something God does. It is who He is. His name is Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals. To deny this, is to deny the nature of God, who never changes".
Our takeaway from this statement should be that it is not God's desire that anyone be sick. We must see that Cancer does not represent Life in the body; it represents Death, which lies in the realm of Satan. Sickness and Disease were not part of God's design for our bodies when He created us. Both became a part of man's experience after Satan tempted Adam and Eve to sin in the Garden. Child molestation, rape, murder, tragic car accidents -- none of these are the will of God for us. But Satan hates God and hates His creation....us! He wants to hurt God by hurting God's creation. So when anyone convinces themselves that God caused or allowed any of these tragedies, they are blaming God for Satan's evil plans and schemes against us. John 10:10 should clear up any idea that God is behind the bad things that happen in our lives: The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].
Jesus came as God Incarnate; as an exact representation of God, the Father -- to give Life, and give it abundantly. God is Life. Satan is Death and Destruction. It's really that simple. Cancer, Sickness, Child Abuse, Sexual Molestation, Murder, and every evil thing on earth is a manifestation of Satan, and they exist because the Enemy uses them to separate us from God and to steal, kill, and destroy our relationship with Him.
How we understand God and that relationship has huge stakes for our lives and for this world. It is imperative that we understand that we were hand-crafted by Jesus with the capability of being conformed into His very likeness. Can we be perfect Goodness, as He was? Sadly, no, due to our sin nature. But although that level of Goodness may be difficult for us to comprehend, we still have the ability to experience it personally... but we have to be willing to see His Goodness in every experience of our lives. God is either Good all the time, or He isn't. His character attribute of Immutability demands that we acknowledge that.
But if we are going to blame Him in any form or fashion for the Cancer, or Sickness, or Abuse that were part of Satan's plan, we are robbing ourselves of that fullness of God and the abundance of His love for us, and His desire for intimate relationship. How we understand God is perhaps the most important thing we will ever decide in our lives. If I had to offer one piece of advice, it would be this: If it is good, it is from God. Jesus, Himself, said in Mark 10:18, Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. So let's understand this ... Anything that brings sorrow or loss or death is from the Devil. Do not color God's incomparable and perfect character with Satan's wickedness and evil. God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. When your heart can embrace that Truth, the schemes of the Devil to harm your soul will have no effect.
James 1:17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of lights [the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens], in whom there is no variation [no rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [for He is perfect and never changes].
God is changing his view as seen by his remnant. The message you are blowing is becoming more and more common. It's high time we assign Satan his actual mission statement and quit foisting these cosmic crimes on Yahweh. There were good things that came out of the Reformation but blaming God for Satans work isn't one of them. This is closing in on "unforgivable sin" territory (applying the works of the Holy Spirt to Satan). Im glad Yahweh is taking the lead on this one and changing minds in his way!ReplyDelete
I just don't understand Christians who are willing to assign God blame for the actions of the devil! It really shows what a distorted picture they have of God, and it is so damaging to their relationship with Him. And I agree with your comparison to the "unforgivable sin". Good observation!Delete
I think part of the problem is the Church's inability to accurately portray God. I spent many years in confirmation asking questions about this type of thing and they were never answered with anything that made sense. When I finally understood the truth about who my God is it took time to retrain my brain when bad things happened.ReplyDelete
I think it is so important for us, as fellow Believers, to share our experiences and to be honest in expressing the questions we have had during our Christian walk. There is nothing shameful in wanting answers that bring us closer to understanding our God. The problem is that the Church often doesn't have those very answers we're after, and discourages us from seeking them. Sounds like what the Pharisees did, doesn't it?Delete