Most of the blogs I post I write around four o’clock in the morning and this one is no different. I wake up with an idea or a thought floating around in my head and start typing before I drift back to sleep and lose what I want to say. This morning I couldn’t get the idea that God likes us out of my head.
The last two evenings in our Bible study communities we have been discussing suffering and how we all suffer and feel pain at some time in our lives, but we also have comfort in that God is with us through that suffering and if we could see the long picture we would be content to allow God’s will to be done instead of trying to enforce our own will. We came to the conclusion that is what it means to really believe in God. (John 16:9)
The passage we were studying is John 16:12-24 and though the disciples were going to suffer because Jesus was about to leave them, they would also receive joy through that suffering because of the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, and a new understanding of why Jesus had come to this Earth and died for them. Through our suffering we can also receive joy because through it we have drawn closer to God and put our trust in His hands leaving everything up to His will knowing that He has our best interest at heart because He likes us.
If you are a Christian you probably believe God loves you, but have you ever wrapped your head around the concept that God also likes you? I think that most non-Christians believe just the opposite; God dislikes them.
I can’t blame them much because we do a good job of giving off the impression that God doesn’t like them. Let’s be honest, as Christians we are always against something and how seldom are we a positive voice in the community. Here is an example. We are against sin and we should be against sin because sin separates us from a Holy God. But so often we seem to be against the sinner, forgetting the only difference between the Christian and secular person is grace.
I’m going to be perfectly honest and state that I am not an overly good person. Oh, I might do a lot of good things, but when holding up my character before a Holy God I’m not in the same ballpark and neither are you. But, the wonder of it all is that, in spite of my corrupt nature, God likes me and He likes you. He loves us and likes us and that is the coolest (I know that dates me) thing possible.
I mentioned last post that the difference between religion and the Gospel is that religion says get your life right and then God accepts you, and the Gospel says come as you are and allow God to lead and direct you in His time. Doesn’t that sound like God likes you?
I use to teach in a private school where all the lines became blurred between the Good News and the rules of the school. The result wasn’t the fault of administration, teachers or the students. It was just a jumbling of rules that needed to be in place for the safe operation of the school and the confusion in the student’s heads that those rules somehow represented God.
The result for a number of students was they ended up pretty sure that God didn’t like them because they didn’t live up to the school’s rules and since God’s rules and the school’s rules co-mingled they felt bad about themselves. Just like the students, people are still confusing God with other people’s perception of Him.
They hear preachers attacking “sin” on television, in the pulpits and on line. The response for most people is “wow that’s me, I do that stuff or believe those things, or believe that way so God must be angry at me”, and the result is they end up believing God doesn’t like them. You and I know that God loves us all but it doesn’t seem that way to someone on the outside of Christianity looking in.
So, what can we do to change the picture? Let’s start by seeing people as sons and daughters of God. They may be living a long way from God, but they are still our brothers and sisters and God still loves them, so why can’t we? People need the Gospel in their lives not moralism and legalistic decrees if they are ever going to stop suffering.
So often we offer platitudes, or pat answers along with throwing in a little theology when people confess their fears, pain or doubts. But you and I know what they need, the same thing we need when we hurt. It is the knowledge that someone understands what we are going through, still loves us, doesn’t judge us but keeps on liking us.
My mother was a patient woman. She became a Christian at fourteen, got married young and lived with my father for seventy-two years. My dad was a good man, but he could be stubborn and try the patience of a saint. In short, he was a typical man. Of all the things in the world that my mother wanted, she wanted dad to become a believing Christian. Just weeks before his death while she lay half paralyzed in a nursing home hospital bed she saw her dream come true.
God liked my dad. God loved my dad. God liked my mom. God loved my mom. He and mom were on the same page. They both wanted to see my dad in the Kingdom of God. God and my mom never gave up on dad because he wasn’t responsive for seventy-two years. My mom kept praying, loving and liking dad and God kept whispering in his ear, “see how much you mean to your wife and children. See how much they long to see you happy. That’s what I want for you too, because I really like you and love you.”
Let’s turn off the judgmental spigot and see them through the eyes of Jesus. God likes us and that is good news.
* Please remember to pray for the Christians who are suffering persecution for their faith in many countries around the world. There is a great evil settling on this earth and we must be vigilant in our prayers and stay close to Christ. Our hope is in Christ and he is faithful to his people. Please take the time to read about what is taking place in the world around us at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…