3 Ways We Ruin God for OthersIn believers, Blog, truth 4 comments
I write this post, not as a finger-pointing indictment on good people who love God and sometimes, go wrong.
Because were that the case…oh, I’d have to point the finger at me.
I write it, not as a hysteria-driven post about how God will no longer be all the God He is without our help. Let’s be clear: the Almighty God of the Universe doesn’t need our help keeping up His awesome.
But if we who are followers of Christ will be honest we will acknowledge and admit that God’s character is attached to us by virtue of our alignment with Him, and sometimes, it has been to His detriment.
Because we will either draw people to Him or we will contribute to their turning away. And with the high stake of eternity, we can’t afford to be less than honest about how our traditions, habits, mindsets, biases and wrong theology play a role in how God is seen by others.
Friends, I lovingly propose…we need to re-think some things.
1) Our Christian Language – Even the most churched believers likely would not contest that Jesus people speak our own language. Sadly, it is a language people on the outside of our faith often do not understand, which makes me wonder if the way we communicate is more about us and less about the person we are trying to connect with. I once learned this the hard way when I described my husband to an inquiring person in this way: “he’s an arm lifter.” (referring to Exodus 17 where Aaron and Hur lifted up Moses arms when he became tired) Because of this woman’s occupation and background, I wrongly assumed she knew what this passage meant and the context in which I was using this phrase as a description of a great support person. But I was wrong. After looking puzzled, she very gently said, “I’m sorry. I don’t know what you mean when you say he is an arm lifter.” Feeling embarrassed, I briefly explained the passage in the Bible and why that phrase was a great way to describe my husband. I walked away from that moment with both humility and gratitude that God had reminded me to never rest on pat Christian phrases as a way to connect with someone. Phrases like “take it to the cross…chase after Jesus…praying for you for a hedge of protection” confuse people and make them feel silly for not understanding what it means [I'm not sure we necessarily do, either], which isolates rather than draws in.
2) The God Card – Believers have the tendency to claim God is in everything, even the man-made decisions He has nothing to do with. I’ve sat with countless people who have told me of the co-worker or neighbor who has blamed being late to work [or whatever other nonsense] on God not letting their car start, etc. [Leaving those people to wonder what kind of God would not let a car start so a worker would be late to work?] Just recently, I had someone tell me they believed God had put the brakes on something that I knew well would be good, profitable, and timely but was being stifled for human reasons but using God as a scapegoat for why it couldn’t move forward. Believers know: when we pull out the God card, it stops the conversation. But it is such a blatant misuse of our Heavenly Father and really, an abuse of our position as His child to constantly claim our human decisions are mandated by Him. The truth is, God doesn’t “red light, green light” near as often as we claim. He leads, guides, confirms, and yes, sometimes holds us back from things that would be to the detriment of His Gospel. Yes, He is sovereign. Yes, He cares about every detail. But He is in the soul saving, life refining business. He wants us to ask Him for wisdom and then use that in our everyday life as His representatives to make solid, character-driven decisions that align with His heart. When we pull out the God card, inserting Him into things He is not, we tarnish His true leadership.
3) Living Fearfully – We know and have been admonished by preachers to live in such a way that represents God well. We take that to mean we should be kind, do good things, etc., and yet we don’t often think about other ways we don’t represent the nature of God very well. One of the biggest ways we ruin God for people is by living a life of fear-driven decisions. Don’t be naive: they notice. When we do this, we communicate to people that we don’t have full confidence in the God we claim is in control of every inch of our lives. In this way, we don’t represent the truth or that life with God is different and secure, and that offers people less of a reason to choose to follow Him.
The bottom line is, friends, we are responsible for the way we live. And in that way, we can’t close our eyes to the way we ruin God, at times, in the eyes of others.
**Now…reader who is a believer or who is not…what have you experienced…and what, if anything, would you add to this list?
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