Many view God as an all-powerful Judge who is eager to plague us with disease, disaster and disgrace when we tick him off. A list of dos and don’ts becomes our gauge to measure our success in pleasing him. We think if we don’t live up to God’s expectations he will zap our lives with a lightning bolt to shock us into obedience.
Others view God as caring and kind. God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in eternal, loving communion. God has made us one with the Son by sending him to become human with us and for us, and he invites us to participate through the Holy Spirit in the Son’s intimate relationship with the Father. We grow daily in trust and confidence as we walk and talk with him. He is the helper of our joy, not a cosmic policeman handing out spiritual tickets (2 Corinthians 1:24).
How we view God is important in building a personal relationship with him. The foundation for this relationship is laid when we first become Christians. If we turn to God because we are afraid he will burn us in a lake of fire if we don’t, it would be kind of like marrying someone just because they said they would kill us if we don’t. It’s not the kind of foundation a loving relationship is built upon. One would live in constant fear that if God is not pleased, he might open the trapdoor to hell.
But still, many people think that if you don’t threaten people with an ever-burning hell, they will never come to Christ. How sad!
On the other hand, if, as the gospel teaches, we embrace God because he loves us and sent his only Son to live among us (John 1:14), serve us (Mark 10:42-45), freely die for us (John 3:16, John 10:18), and rise from the grave to give us victory over death (1 Corinthians 15:54-57), then our foundation becomes one of true love, not fear. We enter into the relationship feeling accepted and wanted. As we come to know God more intimately, we realize he has only our best interest in mind. He is for us, not against us.
Is it important to view God as he really is? I think so. How we view God determines our relationship with him. God wants only the best for us. He’s there to help us, not harm us. After all, God is love (1 John 4:8).
Barbara Dahlgren, 2011