I wonder sometimes if my view of God is actually very wrong.
By this, I do not mean my understanding of God, or my knowledge of his character and his power. I know that God is all-powerful, loving and holy. What I’m talking about is the way in which I expect God to act, and the way in which I look at God.
I think, more often than not, I look to God as someone who should be doing things for me, and I ignore the other side of this equation – what I can and should do for God.
To elaborate, firstly, I’m aware that God doesn’t need me to do anything. God is not dependant on me for his existence. God is not dependant on anyone but himself for that and, since he is self-sufficient, he’s got that covered. But God longs for us to be in a relationship with him, to love him and worship him. God wants us to be devoted to him, to live for him and to be his people on this earth.
In Matthew 22, Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is. His reply is completely about what we can do for God and his people:
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39)
What strikes me about these verses is that they are all about what we should be doing in response to God’s love, and not what God should be doing for us. It is very easy to slip into a view of God which expects him to act in certain ways – to give us a job, to sort out our problems, to make everything good. Now for sure, God does promise good for us, of that there is no doubt. God is a good God who loves his children. But he also never promises these specific things. He never says ‘Hey, if you follow me, you’ll never worry again. You’ll never have doubt. You’ll never be jobless or lonely or poor.’ In fact at times, he says the opposite.
God promises good for us, yes. But I think his idea of good and our idea can be different things. What we can see as being good for us, God does not. When we pray for something and we don’t get it, we can respond in two ways – we can either say that it wasn’t what God wanted for us, and we know God only wants good for us, and so it’s ok, even though it might be incredibly hard. Or we can blame God for not acting in a way which we have decided he should have acted.
God promises good – why didn’t I get that job?
God promises good – why does this still hurt?
God promises good – why am I still suffering?
The parallel of a father-child relationship here is helpful. Think of a child who is desperate to do something or have something that their father knows is not good for them. When the father says no, the child reacts, throwing a tantrum and hurling insults at their father. But the dad is just looking after his child, wanting only the best for them. By not letting them have or do something, he is actually helping to form the child into a better person, even though at the time, the child does not see that.
Our relationship with God should not be about what God can do for us. We know God is for us and will do what he sees as good for us.
We should in fact be following the commandments Jesus spoke, and asking God what we can do for him. We have to firmly push the spotlight away from ourselves and direct it back onto God. If we constantly see God as someone who merely hands out blessings and advice, we lose sight of who he truly is. If we give ourselves to him, however, and devote everything we have to him, then we will be giving him the worship and glory that he, being God, deserves.