AUDIO VERSION: YouTube Podbean
Can you be a devoted Christian who is greatly pleasing God if you currently loathe other humans? The modern Church, the apostle Paul, and the apostle John would all say no. God would say yes. Now let’s explain.
God has always taught that He is to be our First Priority—so much so that we should be willing to lose our relationships with other humans for the sake of honoring Him. It doesn’t always get to that point, but that is the goal. You see, God doesn’t just call us to be sort of into Him—He commands us to obsessively love Him. We are to consider Him our All-in-All, our Master, our Commander, our King. God is supposed to be the One who we are living to please. His opinion is supposed to trump all others in our minds. His approval is supposed to be everything to us.
And then there are people. How does God teach us to love people? Well, we’re supposed to be gracious, generous, merciful, and kind. But we’re also supposed to have boundaries, dole out discipline when needed, and be willing to cut ties when necessary. The kind of love that we’re supposed to be giving humans is a very different, far more limited kind of love than we’re supposed to be giving God. It’s totally inappropriate for us to obsess over humans, to pray to them, to worship them, to view ourselves as totally dependent on them, or to give them our absolute trust. We’re never supposed to give humans anything close to total submission, and yet total submission is definitely an attitude that we want to develop with God.
Now today, the Church is blowing off the difference between the kind of love you’re supposed to be giving God and the kind of love you’re supposed to be giving humans. By the time she’s teaching you to pray to human saints, worship human worship leaders, blindly trust your human teachers, and view yourself as totally dependent on a collection of Scriptures which were all written by humans, the Church is teaching you to treat humans like God’s equals. Then she vaults them even higher than God by teaching you that you need other humans to pray for you, lay hands on you, interpret God’s will for you, and spiritually intercede for you. Soon humans are our first loves in life, while God is just our last resort.
Now once you accept the Church’s complete reversal of God’s priority system, then of course you’re going to be riddled with guilt when you find an intense dislike for other humans creeping over you. Since people are the true gods of the Church, she teaches you that your spiritual health can be measured by your attitude towards people. If you can’t stand other humans, than clearly you are a spiritual zero, because you are rejecting the true gods of modern Christianity. And as long as you’re stuck hating people, Christians are going to be dumping condemnation and criticism onto your head and smugly declaring you to be in some state of spiritual rebellion. But are you? Not necessarily.
BEING ALIGNED WITH GOD
The first step to breaking free from the Church’s idolatry driven condemnation is to align your judgment system with God’s. The Church judges you by what she can see: your actions, your words, your mannerisms, and your appearance. God judges you by your soul’s response to Him. So then, how is your soul currently responding to God? To answer this question accurately, you need to forget all about other humans for a moment. Humans are not God. Other humans are irrelevant when it comes to you pleasing God. All that God judges you by is how your soul is responding to Him, and that comes down to one simple question: how much do you want to please your Creator?
If you don’t give a darn about pleasing God, then you’re not in a good place with Him, but you’re not hopelessly lost, either. One of the reasons God is so easy to succeed with is that He meets us where we are at. Once we understand that God wants us to care very much about pleasing Him, then if we find that we are falling short of that goal, we simply need to ask Him to help us get there. God is thrilled with souls who currently want to please Him and with souls who wish they could want to please Him. Not being able to scrape up deep love for God is a very real and extremely common issue for humans. But when we can’t reach that bar, God offers us a far more accessible goal: we can ask Him to help us develop a sincere interest in pleasing Him. “God, I need You to help me even want to please You,” is a prayer that God finds very pleasing, and this makes it possible for the soul who has lost all interest in God to get back into alignment with Him.
Now being aligned with God is the position you want to stay in as much as possible, and it is a simple matter of desiring God’s will for your life. Alignment is a form of submission—it’s a soul attitude that says “I want what You want.” But here’s a critical point that many Christians don’t understand: alignment is not determined by follow-through.
Christians commonly believe that if they can’t follow through and obey a conviction that they receive from God, then He will consider them to be disobeying Him. In other words, simply wanting to obey God counts for nothing—you have to follow through. This is what the Church will teach you because the Church is composed of humans who judge you by your actions because they can’t see into your heart. Well, God is not a human, and God knows you inside and out. When God sees that you want to obey Him, yet you can’t scrape up the resources to act on those desires, God credits you for your soul’s response to Him.
God controls your resources in life, and He keeps those resources in a constant state of flux. Why is it that in one moment, you find it easy to smile graciously when someone is rude to you, but an hour later, you become furious and lose your temper? Ever wonder why some addicts can suddenly muster the self-control to instantly break free of their addictions while others struggle immensely only to remain totally enslaved? The answer is Divine empowerment. When God gives you the resources you need to do something, you’ll be able to do it. When God withholds the resources you need, then no amount of want to will get the job done. Whether the resources you need are emotional, psychological, physical, spiritual, material, or relational, God controls them all. This is how it works when you are a creature who is totally dependent on the God who created you: you can’t do anything without His help. And because God has very different priorities than you do, you will find Him frequently blocking you from doing things that you want to do. When you think that what you want is what God wants, then confusion arises, and this is what is going on with Christians who hate other people.
In your life, God puts certain goals in front of you. Loving other humans is one of those goals. But God placing a goal in your path and God enabling you to reach that goal right now are two very different concepts. If you’re honest, you’ll find that you are totally incapable of reaching many of the goals that God puts in front of you—things like giving Him your absolute trust, or loving Him with all that you are. When you lose sight of the fact that God controls your resources, then you start blaming yourself for not being able to reach goals that God is blocking you from reaching. Because the Church totally denies the reality that God would ask humans to do something that He is not enabling them to do, the Church is a useless resource when you find yourself in a crisis of guilt and shame over not being able to obey God. But here’s where you need to back up and remember how God judges you: by your soul’s response to Him. If God says loving people is important, and you want to love people because you want to please God, then guess what? You are pleasing God. You’re doing all that He is empowering you to do in this moment. You see, it doesn’t matter that you can’t make sincere love for others well up inside of you. What matters is that you want to please God. You want His will for your life. You want to have whatever attitudes He wants you to have. Often in life, wanting to will be the best you can do—the only choice God will give you. Follow through won’t be an option because He’ll be intentionally withholding the resources you need.
Let’s use a metaphor to understand why God is so easy to please. Young Jane is dirt poor. She doesn’t have two pennies to rub together, so when her best friend’s birthday comes around, Jane has no money to buy Brianna a gift. Now Brianna has plenty of money, and she has a lot of friends who have plenty of money. So at Brianna’s birthday party, there is a large pile of expensive, beautifully wrapped gifts. How does Jane feel when she arrives at the party and sees that big pile of gifts? She feels really bad. It’s not Jane’s fault that she can’t afford to buy Brianna anything. It’s not Jane’s fault that she’s dirt poor and wearing a shabby looking dress. But Jane still feels awful about it all. As she stands among Brianna’s well-dressed friends, Jane stares at the ground fighting back tears of shame. When she hears people talking about their important jobs and busy lives, Jane doesn’t want to say a word. Jane washes out garbage cans for a living—it’s smelly, nasty work. It’s hardly something she wants to brag about at a party. So while everyone is having a wonderful time, Jane stands off in a corner feeling like an ugly outcast. As she watches Brianna opening up all of her beautiful, expensive presents, Jane feels worse and worse about not being able to buy her friend anything.
After an hour of criticizing herself in her own mind, Jane has convinced herself that she’s nothing more than an embarrassing burden to Brianna, so she decides she’s going to sneak out and leave the party. But just as she starts to make her exit, she feels Brianna grab her hand from behind. When Jane turns around, Brianna pulls her into a tight hug, then rushes her into a different room where they can talk in private. As soon as they’re alone together, a beaming Brianna says:
“Jane, I’m so glad you came! I was worried you wouldn’t be able to get the time off. It means the world to me that you’re here!”
Jane stares at Brianna in confusion. “But how can you really want me here when you have all of them? I couldn’t even afford to buy you a present.”
Brianna scoffs. “What do I want with more presents? Look at my house—I’ve got way too much stuff already. Listen, Jane: those people out there—I know they don’t really care about me. They just came to my party to show off to each other and to enjoy the nice food and music that I provided. But you’re my true friend, Jane. You came here for me, not for what I could give you. As soon as this party is over, you and I will get to hang out together, and that will be the best part of this day for me.”
Why does Jane find this speech so shocking and hard to get her mind around? Because she’s making the same mistake with Brianna that you’re making with God: she’s assuming Brianna only values her for what she does. But in real life, it’s the heart bond that Brianna values—it’s the fact that she knows how sincere Jane’s love for her is. It’s the same with you and God. How you currently feel towards other created beings is irrelevant compared to how you feel about Him. When God sees that you really want to please Him, He is pleased with you. The fact that you don’t currently have the emotional resources to feel warm and gracious towards your fellow humans isn’t what counts to God. When it becomes important to Him for you to love all over others, He’ll give you the resources to do so. But until He does, you need to leave room for His priorities to be different than yours.
NEW TESTAMENT VALUES
Now if you try to share these ideas with other Christians, you’ll likely get a bunch of Scriptures thrown at you and a bunch of harsh criticism, so don’t bother. Because the Church worships the Bible, she ends up exalting all of the bad teaching in the Bible as correct. In the New Testament, we find the apostles John and Paul putting out a lot of bad teaching on the subject of loving humans. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul writes a long speech about love in which he says loving other people—not God—is all that matters (see Discernment Charts – NT Epistles: If We Don’t Love Humans, We’re Worthless). In other words, Paul teaches that our relationships with other humans are far more important than our relationships with God. This is the same Paul who once boasted that he’d volunteer to be cut off from Christ in order to see more of his fellow Jews saved. Paul was a horrible spiritual role model in many ways, yet you’ll be hard-pressed to find Christians who will admit how obnoxious much of Paul’s teaching is.
As for the apostle John—he’s another wellspring of bad theology. John not only teaches that no true Christian could even desire to sin—which is a totally ludicrous claim—but he also says that anyone who doesn’t love people cannot possibly know God. Well, suppose Brianna was to measure the quality of her friends by the gifts they brought her. How well would that external judgment system work? Not well at all, for the people who brought Brianna the best gifts cared about her the least, whereas the woman who didn’t bring any gifts loved Brianna deeply. When we try to assess people’s heart attitudes by their external actions, we always end up drawing wrong conclusions about them. Happily, God doesn’t fall into this trap. Unlike humans, God is able to see your true intentions towards Him, so He never misjudges you.
Sincerely devoted Christians come in a wide variety of packages—some of which are very rude, hostile, and even hateful towards their fellow humans. But because God sees into our hearts, He never rejects those who sincerely care about Him, nor is He fooled by any of our pretenses. God knows who is for Him and who isn’t. He knows who really cares about Him, and who doesn’t. As a Christian who is currently stuck in a place of intensely disliking other humans, you need to stop obsessing over the things that don’t matter. Look inward, not outward. Think about your soul attitude towards God, not your feelings towards other humans. When you know that underneath all of the hostility, you really do want to please God, then you need to stand on that. Don’t expect other Christians to understand your true feelings about God, because they won’t. But God does understand, and His opinion is the only one that counts.
Choosing the Right Priorities: How does God want us to treat our brothers?
Understanding Divine Judgment: Illumination, Empowerment & A God Who Delights In Mercy
The Inner Room: Understanding How God Judges You
What it Means to be Aligned with God
Assessing God’s Pleasure with You: Three Useless Tests
Yearning for More Spiritual Fruits: Wrong Focus, Wrong Priorities