Does our view of God and how we see Him matter? Does it affect our worship?
Recently I came upon a comic strip from HappleTea and the argument of the cartoonist is that he finds God very flip floppy. Of course, I laughed at his comic strip and thought he had some good points but it got me thinking about God.
Who is this God I claim to give my life to? Is He loving or does He have unbearable mood swings?
About a year ago, having spent some time listening to the audio bible and hearing God speak, I thought he had some kind of sarcasm and wit about Him. He was definitely not one-dimensional as we some times make Him out to be. My conclusion at the time was that, “Hey, if God can be sarcastic, so can we.” God can be pretty sarcastic. I mean look at Jesus’ retort to the religious leaders. He was sharp. And so when we come up with some sarcastic comment, it’s not entirely evil or against the meek and quiet Jesus that we think He is.
No, Jesus was strong and masculine. He stood His ground and spoke truth without fear or favour. He was authoritative because He knew who He was.
And so when I hear people out there, atheists mainly, who slam God’s character as if they know Him and usually it’s what they see in paintings or based on hearsay, I think about it. Is God wishy washy? Is He evil? Does He destroy cities in the OT for no reason?
It goes against the God that is promoted in churches these days and on the pulpit; a friendly, approachable and loving God. A God who wants to bless us and mould us to be better people. He wants to turn our lives upside down and transform us into the beings He intended us to be. Actually, from my observation it goes against the God of the Bible.
Look at John 15 as an example. This is the passage it seems that will be shaping the next 40 Days. What kind of God do I worship? This does not sound like a God without direction. No, He is the gardener and the Vine. He prunes where He sees fit and He has purpose. He gives instruction on how to flourish and he shares the secret that He wants to bless us and we can be joyful. He wants to keep us on the right path and we need to listen to Him. He loves us and doesn’t want us to stray.
But of course, those who think He’s flippant will zone in on John 15:6 and ask WHY God is harsh and want to throw us into a fire to be burned. And then will exclaim, “What kind of God does that?!” Then they’ll claim that God’s bad and not worth worshipping, He’s arrogant and overbearing and He’s childish.
So as I pondered on the thought(s) of that atheist cartoonist, I then began to ask myself, why focus on God? Why blame God? What about us? What role have we played? How do we view ourselves in relation to God? And it became clearer that we were the selfish ones projecting ourselves and assuming God was like us. Why should God serve us? Who are we? Why should God bow to our demands? Are we saying that we are greater than God? I don’t like God therefore He does not exist? Are we innocent and blameless? Really? It’s all God’s fault?
The God in the Bible has been trying to win us over from the start. He made us like Him, with feelings, with choice, and clearly with this freedom, we chose otherwise. Due to our own folly. As if we know better. And so He’s been trying to present His case, that He’s worth it. That He’ll take care of us, that we won’t lose with Him on our side. He loves us. He’s in it all the way. He’s given us a way out. He wants us. All of us.
Does He get exasperated with our choices? Does He get frustrated when we are blind and foolish? I think so. Does He clang the bells and sound the trumpets when we’re headed the way of destruction? I think so. We hear it, some times like a faint tinkling, other times like an annoying siren and go, “Oh my, what’s up with God now? Why is He making that racket? Pfft. Warn us? As if.” Does God try to make amends so we don’t keep stumbling? I think so.
He does all of this because He loves us. If He was indifferent to us, He could care less what happened to us, no? Like that famous saying, the opposite of love is not hate, it’s apathy.
But if this God is so loving, the atheists would counter, why would He banish us to hell for misdeeds? Or for not believing that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life? If God loved us, they’d say, He would let us into heaven anyway. He’s heartless otherwise.
The thing is, I believe God has principles. He can’t say one thing and do another. That would make Him untrustworthy. Like a parent who disciplines out of love, likewise God is the same with us. I mean, we have standards ourselves. Why can’t God? Should He bend backwards because of us and thereby erase His own credibility? No. It’s his prerogative that if we fail to meet the mark, we have to be set aside. That’s that. It’s not evil. It’s a stand. Take it or leave it. It’s better this way because then we know who God is and He won’t waver. He makes sense in the midst of chaos.
To be honest, even atheists or free thinkers or whatever have a stand. They too believe in something and have a system they abide to. Regardless of what they say and whether they want to give credit or not. So for them to claim that the God of the bible is hard to understand, moody and dicey, I hardly think it’s God. It’s more them, if anyone.
Back to my question, does how I view God matter in how I trust Him and believe that He will work? Yes.
I personally consider myself mushy and I fear I may not finish this race. I hardly emulate Jesus’ faithful obedience. God is strong but I am weak.
But let’s try to think of this less myopically. Do I believe that God can redeem my country? I mean, right now I’m really wondering the end game. Will we as a nation rise together to rebuild ourselves? Or will we abandon it? Do we have the strength to fix what is broken? I mean, what happens after everything? Do we just continue with our lives? Is it like when we watch the season finale and then wish for more?
All this matters because this will frame how I pray for Malaysia in the next 40 days, how committed I am to this land I call home. What is my petition to God for this country? I don’t know. And that’s the scary thing.
Of course I want to see wrong made right, I want to see justice prevail, I want to see fear dissipate. I want light to conquer darkness. I want prosperity for all. I want comfort and security for everyone. But is that too idealistic? I’m reading through Day 1’s prayer topics and feeling a sense of disconnect. Somehow, my heart isn’t in it yet. I think the drama is more attractive, the mess is more alluring and sensational. Do I believe that what I am going to pray for will move God’s heart to reveal His plans for us?
What about for myself? Back to being myopic. What am I looking to God for in my life? Do I have any requests? Some times I live without asking because I believe I won’t get it and other times because I think it’s selfish of me to ask. God, what do I want? Do You know what I want?
Please help me to focus, God. Help me to listen for your pulse so I can sync with it. Help me to see things through Your eyes and help me to hear You loud and clear. In the midst of everything that’s happening in Malaysia, and even at work and at home, please hold my hand and don’t let go. Most times I know I will try and shrug You off but don’t let go! Grip me firmly and take me where You want me to go. Even if I’m kicking and screaming. Help me to understand You better, to feel the love You have for me and give me wisdom to understand Your reason.
For this land of Malaysia, amidst the disappointments that seem to come crashing on us like waves, help keep us buoyed, our heads above the water. May Malaysians keep their sense of humour, temper their anger and find solutions to weather the storm. As for the Church, may we be the vessel that brings Your message of hope, that this is not the end but the beginning. Help keep us upright, stay on course and don’t let us capsize. In Jesus’ name, Amen.