AUDIO VERSION: YouTube Podbean
Many earnest Christians find themselves paralyzed with fear that God will suddenly flip out on them if they make one wrong move in life. Naturally this makes them feel very distressed and anxious whenever they have to make a decision. If your human father was some unreasonable, short-tempered jerk who was always demanding that you reach some impossibly high bar of perfection, you will automatically project these same bad qualities onto your heavenly Father. But the truth is that God is not a clone of your earthly parent. Instead, He is an entirely different kind of Being, and One who is far easier to succeed with than your fellow human beings.
Here’s a key point to understand: God does not expect you to read His mind. When He wants you to do something specific, He takes full responsibility for communicating His will to you. When He’s not giving you any specific instruction (which many Christians feel is most of the time), then is He going to flip out on you for making some wrong move? No.
It’s important to realize that you only exist because God intentionally brought you into being. Why did He do this? Because He wants you to be. The truth is that God really likes human beings. We are not a bunch of irritants that God finds taxing to deal with. We are His dearly loved creatures and He has intentionally created us to not be very bright. We’re all bumbling around with very little understanding and a lot of “gut instincts” that aren’t all that smart. We’re like little toddlers who constantly stumble around while they think rather simplistic thoughts and don’t have much of a clue about how the world really works. Is this a problem to God? No, He likes it this way. He enjoys taking care of high maintenance creatures who are in need of constant supervision.
When you find yourself constantly fearing that God is going to suddenly flip out on you, you’re viewing Him like a brooding Father who enjoys whacking you without warning. But this is not at all who He is. The Holy Spirit is like your gentle, loving Father and you are like His little toddler who He is walking through a park. When you stumble to the ground–which you will do quite often–the Holy Spirit gladly pauses and gently picks you up again. When you try to go towards something that could hurt you, the Holy Spirit gently calls you to stick with Him while He steers you in the opposite direction. The Holy Spirit likes working with human beings. He really enjoys guiding us and teaching us, even though we are very slow learners. While you would find it exasperating to have to go over the same material with someone ten times in a row, the Holy Spirit goes over the same things with you a billion times and He actually finds it quite enjoyable.
When He knows that you want to please Him, the Holy Spirit simply isn’t going to get annoyed with you. He is incredibly patient—so patient that we have a hard time getting our minds around it. But it gets a lot easier to understand why the Holy Spirit is so kind to us when we realize that He doesn’t suffer from the human problem of setting unrealistic expectations. You see, you can’t ever surprise the Holy Spirit because He knows you inside and out. You can’t ever disappoint Him, because He’s already seen your whole life. When you want to please God, the Holy Spirit does not view you as some perpetual failure or some impossibly stupid student. Instead, He sees you as His dear creation and He delights in all of your stages of spiritual development.
How obnoxious would it be to see a human mother yelling at her baby for soiling his diapers or spitting out his food? A baby doesn’t yet have the skills needed to not do these things. He doesn’t have the physical ability to take himself to the bathroom, and he doesn’t have the coordination to eat neatly. When human parents are bumping up against their own limitations, they often groan at the extra work their babies give them and there are moments when they view their own children as tiresome burdens. But God is not a human parent, and He is not plagued with personal limitations. God didn’t have you foisted upon Him. You weren’t delivered to God by some other being. God chose you. God made you specifically for Himself. If God had preferred a creature who was fully mature at birth, He would have made you one. But God wanted you to be the way you are: a creature with vast potential which you can only grow into at a rather slow pace.
For God, the joy is in the journey. It’s walking with you through life and sharing all of your stages of development with you that He enjoys. He intentionally paces your spiritual development because He doesn’t want you to understand everything at once. Instead, He wants to enjoy sharing in your joy and excitement each time He puts some new kernel of truth in front of you. What’s fun about introducing children to some new playground or cultural tradition? It’s seeing the wonder on their faces as they experience things for the first time. Being around kids helps us see our own lives from a new perspective. They remind us of how much we take for granted and we have so much fun introducing them to new sights, new concepts, and new experiences. Well, God is the One who came up with this whole set up so that we could have a taste of what it’s like for Him as He slowly introduces us to who He is. God loves teaching us, guiding us, protecting us, and providing for us. Sometimes He will pipe up with some specific instruction for you, but most of the time His personal leading in your life will come in far more subtle ways. The point is that you are never alone. God does not stand at a distance critically eyeing you. He is right beside you at all times, directing every aspect of your life and sharing every moment with you whether you are aware of Him or not.
We do not have Creators who are hard to please, impatient, or harsh in Their treatment of us. Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are incredibly gracious, generous, and kind Beings who say that succeeding with Them is as easy as sincerely asking Them to have Their total way with us. If you’ve done that, you are all set. If you haven’t done that, ask the Holy Spirit to help you get to the point where you want to. We are never alone in this relationship. Our Gods are always holding our hands and empowering us with the resources we need to do what They want. Success is not something we have to strain for—it is something They drop into our laps as a reward for our total submission to Them. It is so easy to succeed with our Gods. For the Christian who sincerely wants to please Them, there is no need for fear.
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Divine Judgment Q&A