The new you… escaping false views of God; part 3
“For the LORD is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 100:5)
We have been talking about people’s false perceptions of God – and how those perceptions have a profound effect upon a relationship (or lack thereof) with God.
We have seen the Strict Disciplinarian view (causing us to avoid God… or adopt strict legalism). Yesterday, we talked about the Perfectionist view (which leads to endless efforts at trying to please God by our “good works” – all in our vain efforts to avoid his disappointment).
In our next two views, god gets all soft and cuddly…
The Santa Claus god. In this view of god, he is seen as the one who exists to give “good” people whatever they want. Those with this view seek to “crawl up on his lap” and have him listen to their wish lists – expecting him to give them what they desire. This type of god exists only to serve their wants, in accord with their own self-absorbed view of how things should be.
Those who hold this view have two primary characteristics…
1) Their focus is upon doing good things – not really to glorify God, but to make sure that they are on his “nice” list. “Naughty” children get “coal.” But “nice” children get lots of presents!
2) Their prayers are like a “Christmas list” offered to the one who can grant their requests. Their “gift list” is often filled with self-serving desires.
In this perception of God, any thought of the will of God is mostly irrelevant. If there is any interest in the will of God, it is only if they are the central figure of his will. Their world is small – but they are the king/queen of their world.
This perception can only lead to a certain disillusionment. Its proponents, eventually come to wonder, “If we are such good children, why doesn’t god give us what good children should get.” If difficult circumstances emerge (which they actively attempt to avoid), they become sullen and frustrated (as the immature often do!).
Those with this perception, will not (cannot!) grow to maturity, even though they see the goodness of God, because they cannot get beyond their own perceived wants and self-absorbed needs. Everything, in this view, is centered around personal gain, and personal satisfaction (receiving good things as a reward for their good behavior).
God IS a good God (see Psalm 107:1, 8-9) – and the Bible declares that He does give good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11). But that is not why He exists. A proper view of God recognizes His goodness – and that He gives SO THAT we might be able to give unto others (see 2 Cor. 9:8). We are not cups, receiving the good things of God (so we can satisfy ourselves) – we are conduits receiving AND distributing the good things of God (Grace!).
A quick study of prayer, in Scripture, reveals that God is intensely interested in answering prayers that are God-centered, and others-centered. And in taking the focus off of ourselves, we find that we receive something we had not expected – great joy, within ourselves.
The new you is unconcerned with all the “things” we can get from God – it is concerned with how God wants to display the goodness of His giving nature through us.
Prayer focus: God help me to see You as you really are – and help me to recognize when my prayers are self-serving.