God Isn’t Mad! I Promise …
There’s a secret that many people carry with them: the feeling that “God is mad at me.” It might not be said in those words and it might not even be perceived as such, but it is there … lurking in the heart and shaping one’s approach to life and God Himself.
The secret might look like the perception that God gets upset when we sin and that we have to get Him back on our “good side” by doing something good. It might look like having to do good things (i.e., be obedient) for God to “bless us.” (the assumption here is that God withholds His blessing for those who have it together) A secret belief that God is mad at us could even be found in thinking that God loves me more, somehow, when I am doing good things. Finally, the secret might show up when we are going through tough circumstances and we wonder: “what did I do to deserve this?”
We live in a world where love is conditional. We get tastes of unconditional love here and there, and what a great taste when we get it! However, we carry with us, often buried deep past the level of awareness, the idea that love is something which we must earn. So, even though we hear phrases like unconditional love and understand the concept, our hearts frequently tell a different story and influence our perception of how to relate to others. No matter how wonderful our families of origin were, there was a certain level of dysfunction … it’s just the reality of living with imperfect people.
In addition, we were all born with an instinct (something called the “flesh” in the New Testament epistle of Galatians) to take control of life through our own efforts. So, our hearts often believe that relationships, and therefore love, are something that we earn through our good works.
So, our environment and our relationships set us up for the belief that love isn’t really unconditional … it has to be earned and then protected through our effort. The consequence, then, is that this shows up in our relationship with God as well. In Ephesians 3:14-15, we read: “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.” The idea is that the very concept of relationship and love and family comes from God. Relationships are made in His image. So, as we experience human relationships, we naturally project them onto God, but the reality is that we should allow God to define His way of relating to us.
When we read the Scriptures and learn that God has “commands”, it can be tempting to think that His commands are those ways that we keep Him happy. However, this would be simply reading our own experiences into God’s communication to us. God’s commands reveal His desires for us as His creation. His commands reveal our created design. He doesn’t demand, He desires. He desires for us to live in relationship with Him … to know Him and love Him and trust Him. We were created to be led by Him moment to moment in our lives. And the beauty is that these are our deepest desires as well.
God is not mad. He longs for us to know Him and trust Him and love Him in deep, moment by moment ways. Longing and anger are not the same thing. Because Jesus died on the cross for us, we are secure in God’s love and it has nothing to do with our own effort. Because the Spirit of God is made available to us because of Christ, we can walk through life in His power. That is freedom and rest and peace.
Take a few minutes today and ask God to show you places in your heart where you are doing life by your own effort and you will see an area of life where you are in bondage to the old story of conditional love. Surrender that area to His love and power. Ask God for the continued awareness of His presence and love and life as you walk through your day …