AUDIO VERSION: YouTube Podbean
Caution: This post discusses advanced theology which might be too overwhelming for the spiritually young.
Since everything originates from and revolves around God, close communion with Him is the greatest prize we humans could hope to attain. But how do we get there? We certainly can’t just shove our way in—we must first receive an invitation from God to know Him better. Such invitations come to us throughout our lives, and how well we respond to them determines how many more God offers us.
In our material, we encourage you to set your sights on the richest communion with God that He is willing to offer you. When this is your goal, then you are going to keep saying yes to every invitation God brings you, and you will eagerly embrace any new insights which He provides about who He is. God treats us all differently, and He teaches us all in a different order. Comparing yourself to other Christians is useless, for obsessing over what God is doing with someone else won’t help you get closer to Him in your own life. For you, the focus needs to stay on being receptive to any invitations God offers you. We want our soul attitude towards God to be one of, “I love You and I want to know You better.” Unfortunately, most Christians have a very different attitude. Rather than being eager to know their Creator better, they reach a point where they say, “This is close enough. I’m comfortable with the few things I know about You, so stay out of my way while I get the most out of this earthly life and I’ll see You in Heaven.” Most Christians treat God like a stranger who they friend on Facebook—merely having a connection with Him is good enough. They don’t really want to put effort into relating to Him. Well, how does God respond to this? Is it true that we can put God off as long as we want and then order Him to open up to us at our convenience? No, we can’t. God is like a billionaire who knocks on our door one morning, ready to give us a check for a million dollars just to do it. If we don’t open the door promptly, He moves on and we might never hear Him knocking again. You see, God is always with us and He is always sustaining us. But merely being in the Presence of God is not the same as God being willing to relate to us in a personal way. God is with all of His creatures all of the time. The popular notion that Hell is a place where we will be cut off from the Presence of God is a total misunderstanding of how things actually work. Hell is God’s creation, and He controls what happens in it. Once we understand this, we realize that merely being with God is no guarantee that we will find His Presence a comforting thing. If God takes a hostile stance towards us in eternity, we will find ourselves desperately wishing we could escape Him. But if He is pleased with the way we responded to Him on earth, then we will find His Presence to be a very joyous thing. It all comes down to how we responded to the invitations God gave us while we were here.
THE PRICE OF INTIMACY
Now for those of you who decide to be smart and pursue God first in life, there are some things you need to understand about the bonding process. Relating to your non-human Creator is an entirely different thing than relating to one of your own kind, and the sooner you understand this, the better off you’ll be. God will require things from you that you should never give to another human, and if you try to hold boundaries with God, you’re going to end up in a mess.
Boundaries are vital in your human relationships, but they have no place in your relationship with God. With humans, you should never be relinquishing all control and giving them total power over you. Humans are power abusers, and in the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual areas of your life, you need to construct and hold firm limits on how much power they can have over you. An incorrect balance of power in your human relationships is guaranteed to lead to abuse, misery, and degradation (see The Element of Power in Human Relationships). And yet with God, the rules are entirely different. With God, you must learn how to relinquish power and stop trying to hoard it. God will not invite you past certain levels with Him until He has fully dominated you, and this is a process through which He teaches you to fully accept and embrace your place as a creature who is utterly subordinate to Him.
Now God is always in absolute control, and He could uncreate you at any time. So when we talk about being dominated by God, we’re not talking about Him actually acquiring more power over you than He already has. Instead, we’re talking about you fully accepting how much power He has. You see, we humans live in a fantasy world when it comes to God. We like to pretend that we have some great sway over Him, and that He desperately needs us on some level, thus we can use those needs to get Him to align with our agenda. We look at Jesus on the cross and we say, “See? That’s how desperately God loves us. That’s a statement of how much He needs us to love Him back.” Christians like to talk about God weeping over the lost and over human suffering, and over every other thing that makes us weep. We essentially view God as being just like us, only nicer and more powerful. He’s more patient and gracious, but He’s also emotionally dependent on us. We say idiotic things like, “God is love and love must have someone to love, so that’s why God made us.” We make Satan the ruler of Hell, because we won’t accept the idea of God delighting in the torment of His own creatures. We say that God hates the things we hate because we feel enormously threatened by a God who would actually want pain and misery to be a part of our lives. We look around at the horrific things that go on in this world and we say that evil is some flaw that Satan introduced because we won’t accept that a God who could do anything would choose to do something like this. Well, all of these attempts to distance God from evil result in an attempt to minimize His power, and once we are trying to minimize God’s power, how well are we going to do in the submission department?
The smaller we make God in our minds, the more limited our submission becomes. Soon we’re only kneeling before a God who blesses, but we’re totally rejecting the God who inflicts misery. We love the God who heals, but we hate the God who wounds. This is not submission, it is approval. When we praise a God who we approve of, it’s no more meaningful than cheering for some politician who has just said what we wanted to hear. And just as we will reject the politician we cheered for the moment we learn about his shady business affairs, we are quick to reject God whenever we’re confronted with some aspect of Him that we really dislike. He inflicts us with a disease, and we rail against Him. He kills our loved one, and we despise Him. He lies to us, and we start pretending we never knew Him. If this is where we remain, are we going to be receptive to God’s invitations to know Him better? No, we’re going to say, “Get away! I hate You and I want nothing to do with You!” This is the stand many souls are taking towards God in the world today, yet what does it really accomplish? Does God stop being God because we hate Him? Does He stop being the Origin and Sustainer of all things? Does He stop being the One we revolve around? No. We cannot reduce or escape God by expressing our hatred of Him. We are caught in an impossible bind, because we are the works of His hands.
A NEEDLESS BEING
God has an extremely high opinion of Himself. He says that He is the most magnificent, awesome, wonderful Being in existence, and that knowing Him is the greatest reward that there is. He says that His approval is such a glorious prize that we should be willing to sacrifice everything to obtain it. He says that He is the point of everything, and that our association with Him is what gives our existence meaning. No one is more egotistical than God. He says He is all that and then some, and when He has the power to fry anyone who disagrees with Him, who will dare to contradict Him? We will.
We humans have quite a bit of ego ourselves, and we take serious issue with God promoting Himself as infinitely more important than we are. We resent being viewed as expendable. We want to be viewed as critical. We want God to depend on us—to feel some deep core need for us. And yet He doesn’t.
God says that while we desperately need Him to give our lives purpose and pleasure, He doesn’t need us at all. He says that He wants us and loves us when He first creates us, but if we fail to show sufficient interest in Him, His love for us will cease and instead He’ll find great delight in tormenting us. Look up passages in the Old Testament in which Yahweh talks about trashing those who He has eternally damned, and you’ll find Him sounding quite enthusiastic about seeing His own creatures suffer. The same is true in the New Testament. Check out all those parables Jesus fires off in the Gospels in which the God character condemns some snarky soul to be hauled away and tortured for defying Him. There is no hesitation or remorse expressed in these moments. God’s takes just as much delight in trashing us as He does in blessing us, and when we really start getting our minds around this, we find it quite disturbing.
God doesn’t need us. There isn’t any element of dependency in His desire for us, and this makes our dynamic with Him feel uncomfortably foreign and insecure. In our relationships with other humans, it is always core needs that drive emotional bonds. A child doesn’t love his mother because she’s such a sweetheart 24/7. He loves her because he depends on her to provide for his basic needs. Where you find humans enduring abuse, you will find humans who are clinging to someone who they believe has something which they desperately need. Why can’t an adult woman cut ties with the father who perpetually hurts her? Because she feels a desperate need for his affirmation, thus she is unwilling to cut him out of her life. Why does a man stick with a woman who is cheating on him? Because he feels dependent on her in some way. Human relationships are driven by need. We cling to the people who we feel dependent on, and we shun those who have nothing to offer us. The woman who is trying to find a substitute for her abusive father shoves away the man who treats her well, but she chases after the man who smacks her around. The man who needs to feel in control shoves away the woman who knows her own mind and chases after the doormat who will let him walk all over her. We chase after what we need, and as our needs change, we dump those who can no longer meet our requirements. When Beth is trying to climb the social ladder and break into a clique of rich, snooty women, she dumps the friends who have been there for her through thick and thin because she doesn’t want to be seen hanging around with those who are economically poor. When Beth was poor herself and struggling to make it, her old friends meant the world to her. But now that she has set her sights on new goals which her friends cannot help her attain, she no longer has any use for them.
In this world, need drive relationships, and we simply have no experience with a Being who is truly needless. It is by assessing the needs of someone else and learning to manipulate those needs that we gain power and control in our relationships. Sandra knows that her husband needs sex, so she uses that as a bargaining chip to make him treat her certain ways. Jack knows his wife craves his attention, so he holds that prize out of reach until she meets certain demands. Bartering like this is how humans function, and yet this sort of system doesn’t work at all with God. At first, we tell ourselves that it does. We pretend that God needs our praise, attention, and help to carry out His will in this world. We then try to use these things to barter with Him. “Heal my mother and I’ll start going to church regularly. Give me a child, and I’ll start working at the local charity. Get me that promotion, and I’ll promote You.” When God does what we want, we tell ourselves that our negotiating tactics worked. But did they? Not at all. God did what we wanted because it was what He wanted to do, and our attempts to bribe Him had nothing to do with it. God simply doesn’t need us. He doesn’t need our praise, He doesn’t need our attention, and He doesn’t need our help. If we snub Him, He doesn’t go off in a corner and cry. If we curse at Him, it doesn’t make Him sad. We are not God’s peers, we are the works of His hands. He has absolute power over us, and He simply doesn’t feel threatened by us. All of the need is on our side in this relationship, and this means that we have nothing we can use to try and secure some kind of hold over God. This leaves us feeling disturbingly powerless, and yet powerless is exactly what we are.
In our relationship with God, we have all of the need and none of the power. We cannot coerce Him into doing our will, because there is nothing we can withhold from Him which He feels dependent on. And yet despite this reality, so few Christians are willing to accept the fact of God’s absolute supremacy over us. Though He is our Master, we spend our lives acting as if He is our Subordinate. We freely criticize His judgments. We constantly point out where He is falling short and instruct Him on how to improve. We tell Him what He can and can’t do, and who He can and can’t be. It is this underlying refusal to be dominated by God which is resulting in so many Christians who are so misinformed about who God even is. And by the time we are promoting a God who is so different than the real God, are our repentant prayers doing us any good?
Can we really obtain salvation by submitting to a Jesus who is only love and filled with a desperate need for us to relate to Him? No, we cannot. Salvation is obtained by submitting to the real Gods, not false gods who we are calling by the same Names. If the Jesus you pray to is a Jesus who never wants anything bad to happen, then you’re not praying to the real Jesus. If the Yahweh you know is some ignoramus who keeps getting outsmarted by devils and humans, then you’re worshiping a delusion. If you think the Holy Spirit exists to make your life easier, then you don’t even know who He is. If you can’t identify any aspect of the Christian Gods which you find threatening, disturbing, or repulsive, then your theology has some serious holes in it. The real Gods are not everything that egotistical humans want Them to be. Certainly They have attributes which we greatly admire, but They also have attributes which terrify us. This is what makes the real pursuit of God so different than some cheery little religion in which we get together in groups to talk about how God can make our lives easier.
The real pursuit of God is when creatures who recognize that they were brought into being by Someone Else begin sincerely searching for a connection with the One who made them. God brought us into existence for His own purposes. Spiritual maturity is a mindset which says, “I am not my own. My Creator had His own purposes for making me, and I want to learn to fully embrace those purposes out of a desire to please Him.” Why should we care about pleasing God? Because He controls the quality of our existence with His infinite power, thus opposing Him is the stupidest thing we can do.
On earth we humans have a saying, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” By this we mean that it is foolish and self-destructive to make an enemy out of someone who you depend on to supply you with some critical resource. Well, no one is more critical to our existence than God. While He does not need us, we are utterly dependent on Him for everything. We have nothing except what He gives us, and we cannot attain anything that He is withholding from us. So while it’s comfortable for us to say, “I serve God because He is good,” we need to dig deeper than this and face the disturbing fact that whether God is good or not, He is still the One we are utterly dependent on.
THE PROCESS OF DOMINATION
The process of being fully dominated by God is a very upsetting experience which requires wrestling with a lot of very intense fears. This is because we cannot properly embrace our subordinate position to God without becoming better educated on who He is. We are not just bowing to an alien Being who we personally approve of. We are hopelessly dependent on a Being who does many things which we find greatly upsetting. Facing the darker sides of God, such as His wildness, His fierce wrath, His needlessness, and His unpredictability, leaves us with many unanswered questions. What if God really can’t be trusted? What if God isn’t as good as He says He is? What if His promise to take us to Heaven turns out to be as valid as Yahweh’s promise that Israel’s Messiah would physically reign from Jerusalem?
The biblical records don’t describe a God who is all sweetness and light. They describe Gods who break Their promises and cancel Their prophecies whenever They feel like it. In the Bible we find many examples of Jesus and Yahweh using deceptive language with humans to raise false hopes and exaggerate certain qualities about Themselves (see Yahweh Lies & Jesus Lies). Yahweh boasts of being long-suffering, when He is really quite the opposite. At most He gives us a matter of decades to meet His salvation requirements before lowering eternal consequences onto our heads (see The Illusion of God’s Long-Suffering Patience). One soul gets a thousand chances to repent, another gets ten (see Salvation Concerns: Why does God block some souls from coming to Him?). How is this fair? It’s not. But then again, our Gods never promised us fairness. And even if They had, who will hold Them accountable to do as They said? Who do our Gods answer to? Who has the power to ensure that They will remain within certain moral bounds and maintain a certain level of consistency? There isn’t anyone.
When we reach out to the Creators of all things, we are reaching out to Beings who can do absolutely anything They want whenever They want. There are no rules or laws which our Gods must abide by. In the Church, you can find Christian theologians and foolish philosophers spinning out fancy arguments for why our Gods can’t do certain things. But such theories are all based on the assumption that human logic is some ultimate form of wisdom, which of course it is not. Human logic is a very blind and limited form of reasoning which is the best our very limited brains can do. Yet whenever we find ourselves confidently declaring what is impossible for Beings who we barely even know, we are talking like fools. Nothing is impossible for the Gods who make and break laws whenever They want. This means our submitting to Them on the condition that They will always maintain a certain level of honesty or consistency is insufficient. Being fully dominated by our Gods requires an embracing of our subordinate position to Gods who can do absolutely anything They want. We do not say, “I bow to You because I trust You or because I understand You.” We say, “I bow to You because You are God.”
QUESTIONING GOD’S GOODNESS
Seriously questioning the goodness of God is an inevitable part of the domination process. At some point, the serious Christian must realize how relative the term “good” really is. As the Supreme Judge, God creates the moral standard that defines what is good or bad. God can revise His own standard whenever He wants, and in the Bible we find Him doing plenty of revising. Under the Old Covenant, eating the wrong kind of meat was good enough to get a man banned from Israel. But then Christ came and said the Old Covenant dietary laws were null and void. In Genesis we find Yahweh commanding Abraham to sacrifice his son. Later on when He establishes the Old Covenant, He declares child sacrifice to be a despicable sin. Nothing can be viewed as set in stone with a God who loves variation. In the process of being fully dominated by God, we stop saying, “I submit to You because You are good.” Instead, we learn to say, “I submit to You simply because You are God.”
THE PURPOSE OF DOMINATION
The purpose of God walking us through the domination process is to prepare us for deeper intimacy with Him. When we reach a certain point in our spiritual journey, God will call us to make some changes to our theology. Our core reasons for submitting to Him must be refined so that all approval-based reasons are purged from the system. By confronting us with some of His most terrifying traits and flaunting His absolute independence while He withholds all warm fuzzies from us, God challenges us to submit to Him solely on the basis of His immeasurable supremacy. He points out that even if He should turn out to be utterly evil from our perspective, He is still God, and His supremacy alone is sufficient reason for us to conclude that rebelling against Him is utterly futile. Hating a Being who is infinitely more powerful than you are does nothing to change the balance of power. It is God’s approval of you that matters, while your approval of Him is utterly irrelevant.
As our Creator, God holds our very existence in His hands. He is the Origin of all that we are, and we cannot possibly define ourselves apart from Him. In our material, we frequently say that pleasing God is all that matters. It is through the process of being fully dominated by God that we understand the truth of this on a whole new level. God truly is all that matters. As the uncreated Creator and the Origin of all things, God is One who everything else revolves around. If intimacy with God is what you’re after, then you need to understand that God will not be reducing His supremacy in any way as He draws you closer to Him. Instead, His great supremacy will become a more central theme in your relationship with Him, and He will demand that you do a better job of recognizing it and embracing it before He will invite you beyond certain points with Him.
As we said before, God is in absolute control whether we choose to acknowledge this or not. Many do acknowledge the supremacy of God, but in a grudging, hateful way. Such an attitude is not good enough. We must choose to embrace God’s domination over us, and to understand the difference, imagine some fearsome hulk of a man forcibly pinning you down to the ground. At first you fight hard to regain your freedom, but he has you in a vice grip and you simply can’t break free. After you struggle yourself into an exhausted state, you lie there, inwardly seething, and glare up at him. At this point your attitude is, “Obviously you’re stronger than I am, so do what you want, but I hate you.” This is how you remain until you get some energy back, at which point you make another stab at breaking free. You’re extremely irritated by being restrained in a position that you don’t want to be in, and for a very long time, you are going to keep cycling through feelings of rage, fear, and frustration as you contemplate how powerless and vulnerable you are. We Christians experience similar emotions when God erodes our confidence in His goodness while blasting us with distressing truths about just how wild and contradictory He is. On the one hand, He’s making cute kittens, pretty flowers, and sunshine. On the other hand, He’s making creatures with an immense capacity to suffer and then He’s coming up with a billion ways for that suffering to happen. The same God who directs some moment of tender romance is directing moments of violent assault. The same God who teaches us how to comfort each other has filled us with the desire to tear each other apart. God is in recovery rooms and torture chambers, directing the activities that go on in both with the same enthusiasm. God is intimately involved in our best and worst experiences on earth, and the more you understand how unlimited He is, the more sobering it becomes that this disturbing blend of good and bad is what He wanted. At church we share the wonderful things that God has done. In the news we read about the horrible things He has also done. We praise Him for the good, we try hard to divorce Him from the bad, and yet the truth is that He is choosing it all.
There are aspects of God which are truly terrifying, and when He is pinning us down and forcing us to face truths which we wish were not true, we will find the experience quite distressing. But eventually we will reach a critical decision point of either embracing our subordination to God or rejecting it. Christians express their rejection of God’s domination in different ways. Some sink into resentful sulks and declare that they want nothing more to do with God. Others launch into a cheerful act of perpetual praise-alluyahs and quickly change the subject whenever negative aspects of God come up. Neither of these responses is pleasing to God. What He wants is for us to embrace His domination of us, and that means we finally relax in His grip, look up at Him and say, “Whoever You are, whatever You are, You’re the One who made Me, and there is nothing for me but You. Your pleasure with me defines my worth. Your purposes for me are what I live to fulfill.” This is the response God wants from us, and once we reach this point, our dynamic with Him changes and we are ready to move on to deeper levels with Him.
It is by going through the process of being fully dominated by God that we acquire a very different perspective of life. Our devotion to Him becomes separated from our approval of Him, and rooted in the fact of His supremacy over us. This is a critical shift, for the closer we get to God, the more exposure we will have to aspects of Him which we will find shocking and distressing. If approval remains a factor in the equation—and that means our devotion to God is largely based on the fact that we believe He is good, trustworthy, loving, or some other positive quality—then our devotion will keep faltering every time God shocks us with some new and unexpected insight about Himself. When approval is too much of a factor, our theology is rigid, and we close our minds to God saying or being certain things. But once approval is removed from the equation, then we stop trying to limit who God is and we become receptive to Him defining Himself to us in any way that He wants.
The domination process is a critical stage in obtaining deep intimacy with God. You might think you know what joyful satisfaction is right now—but on the other side of the domination process, you will discover a whole new level of soul satisfaction and joy that will make your current happiness seem like the utterly shallow thing that it is. We were created to thrive only when we are wholeheartedly pursuing rich intimacy with our three glorious Creators: Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. The process of being fully dominated by Them alters our identities and awakens us to what the true purpose of our existence is.
Life is about pleasing our Gods. They are the only Ones that matter, and anything short of total submission to Them will result in epic losses. We can only find true completion and joy by fully surrendering to Their maturation program for us, and asking Them to make us all that They want us to be. The journey will unfold in a different order for each soul, but for every soul, the question of domination will come up. Are you going to embrace your position as a creature who is utterly dependent on Gods who both delight and terrify you? Or are you going to downplay the aspects of Them that disturb you to the point that you’re refusing to acknowledge who They really are? Or perhaps you will take the popular stand for atheists and declare that you will never submit to a God who does things which you personally disapprove of. The choice is yours to make, and the consequences are yours to endure.
Distressing Truths About God’s Love
Relating to an Alien God
Getting to Know God: Understanding the Process