Lies We Believe About God Part 3

For most of my early adulthood I was caught in a vicious cycle of porn addiction that was, in part, brought on by my image of God.  You see, I thought our Creator’s default state was NOT liking me and sending me to hell, and ANY mistake I made in life was something God took personal offense to.  So, I’d want to quit porn, and would be clean for a day or week … before succumbing to the “high”, which led me to deep shame and despair, because that’s how I thought our heavenly Parent viewed me, and MORE porn.  What freed me and has made me a WAY better person is realizing God’s default state is love, approval, and presence.  Really and truly Love is what transforms us.

This is Part 3 in a series of blogs on normal and widespread misconceptions I had about God, and changes that have brought freedom and life.  While you don’t “need” to have read the previous ones for this one to make sense, they do give some of the framework I’m building on, so here’s Part 1 if you’re interested https://gracenpeaceyoga.com/2018/05/13/lies-we-believe-about-god-part-1/

 

God is NOT Good

This one may seem strange and wrong at first, because how could God NOT be good? Right?  After all, it’s part of the definition of Divinity: “God is good all the time, all the time God is good.”  THAT, I believe, IS the truth.  The problem is we think God causes illnesses, miscarriages, birth defects, harm, death, natural disasters, loss of jobs, failure of relationships, and so on.  Insurance policies even protect companies from paying for “acts of God.”  THESE, my friends, are NOT good things and I honestly think our Source has no part in causing them to happen.

God is anti-illness, against miscarriages, opposed to harm, not destructive, pro relationships, etc.  There are two axiomatic (unquestionable or self-evident) statements about God in the New Testament: God is Light and God is Love.  It seems to me the full revelation of the Divine, as revealed in/via Jesus, led multiple authors to conclude the most important and True things we can say about our Creator is God is Light and God is Love.  Light and Love are pinnacles of Truth.  I’ve found it INCREDIBLY helpful to frame and understand other aspects of God in light of these revelations.

The incredible thing about Divine goodness and God’s economy is that even though God doesn’t cause illness, loss, harm, disaster, death, and such, God takes great pleasure in transforming those losses into gains for us … often the key is for us to get out of the way.  For instance, going through a miscarriage and two divorces could easily have made me bitter, yet; instead by following Christ I’ve become far more compassionate, understanding, and kind.

 

God’s Judgment and Justice are Like Ours

One of the great hopes and fears of Christians is that one day we will all come before the throne of Christ and be judged, and justice will be served based on our actions (note: I believe salvation does come via Christ, but I’ not going to talk about it here to make a different point).  I don’t think the problem with this is that it’s not true, instead it’s that we misunderstand what good, holy, and divine judgment and justice looks like. Let’s circle back to God being Light and Love and the ancient Jewish understanding of judgment/justice to help us out here.

In America our justice system is largely retributive.  That is when a person does something wrong, we punish them.  Period.  God’s justice, though, is restorative.  God is constantly seeking to heal and restore unto fullness both the harmed and the harmers.  This narrative is all over the Bible when we have eyes to see it.

Another way to look at this, which I’ve experienced, is to view God’s judgment as Light and justice as Love.  In the ancient Jewish understanding judgment was simply bringing things into the light, so that everyone could see and FEEL the truth of the matter.  When I went through my first divorce, the light was shone on A LOT for me.  One of the biggest things I realized was how selfish and self-centered I was.  The thing is, I had previously had NO idea I was either of those, but the lengthy process Amy and I went through brought those into the light for me.

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It BROKE my heart to see the truth about me, and here’s where the magic of God’s justice comes into play.  Love empowered me to grow, change, and transform.  Let me briefly put it a different way, and start by noting I’m a hopeful Christian universalist (meaning I hope and think that thru Christ ALL people will likely end up enjoying eternity together).  God is Love and made us to be love, yet we all have unloving bits of us.  I believe both before and after death we come more and more into the presence of God’s Love, which burns away anything that isn’t loving in us.  THIS, my friends in my experience is both painful and an incredible gift.  Realizing my selfishness SUCKED, feeling what I’d done to Amy HURT, and doing the work of becoming more like Christ by allowing Love to burn those things up and transform me was a BLESSING.

 

God Controls Everything

For a decent portion of my life I believed God literally controlled everything, even who went to heaven and hell.  A professor of mine in undergraduate school brilliantly and hilariously described this take on things as: “You’re either saved or you’re damned, and there’s not a damned thing you can do about it.”  This ties back in with God not being good, so I won’t spend too much time here, but I think there’s a bit to be added.  I’m not the first person to say based on the character and nature of God that the fabric of reality is Love.  Love is the grain of the universe, and when we go against this we suffer and create suffering.

The thing is love is pretty much the opposite of control.  God is all about relationship, and central to great relationships is love.  Love makes space, gives choice, and shares power.  My point here is while God couldcontrol everything, our Creator doesn’t.  Instead, our heavenly Parent desires real and authentic relationships with us, so allows us to freely choose, giving us the ability to accept or reject the Love that’s inherent to reality.

I’d thought this was going to be a two part series, but while there will for sure be at least one more, this seems like a great place to pause for now.  I hope and pray this is aiding you on your journey and would love to here what you think!

 

If you enjoyed this you can sign up for email notifications of future blogs on the top right.  Additionally, I have a Facebook page where I regularly post articles, blogs, quotes, meditations, etc. to encourage us to more Light and Love.  Again, to the top right there’s a link for you to “Like” the page, as well as my Instagram account if you’re interested. ❤

Grace and peace,

Lang

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8 thoughts on “Lies We Believe About God Part 3

  1. Hmm interesting thoughts, I can’t say I agree with everything you posed however. I don’t say that to spite you, but I do enjoy dialogue on theology. I’m a bit confused about your first point, I’ll address my concern with it here shortly. I do agree with your second point and really like the way you put it. God is restorative rather than retributive. Which is true, but retribution does take place by His hand at times. I think the main point to take from what you said is that God seeks to restore rather than destroy. For your third point, that gets into Calvinism vs. Arminianism, which has always confused me, so I won’t go there. Haha

    So, my concern is this, you stated “…God doesn’t cause illness, loss, harm, disaster, death, and such…”. That steps into dangerous waters for this reason, God has directly struck people dead. Don’t forget that God is a jealous God as well. His wrath kindles against those who forsake His name and worship false gods and idols. The Jewish nation was sent into exile for seventy years due to their turning away from God. Read Jeremiah and Israel is brought to its knees and forced into captivity. God makes it clear that it is by His hand that this occurs.

    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah+21%3A4-6&version=NASB (Jeremiah 21:4-6)

    It is true that God is compassionate and is faithful to leave an remnant of faithful followers. Read the account of the Good figs and the bad figs in Jeremiah. God is love yes, but He is also a God of wrath. Remember, there is no God of the dead or the underworld in our faith. Many people place Satan in that role. The reality is though, Hell is designed for Satan, not controlled by him. Therefore, who dwells in and controls Hell? Well, God is omnipresent correct? The conclusion is God Himself is the ruler of Heaven and yes, the ruler of Hell. Hell is God’s wrath poured out, but as you said, God much prefers to restore rather than dish out retribution. He is patient and slow to anger with us. However, His patience does become tried. I can provide more examples, but I felt the need to clarify this.
    Again, I gladly welcome discussion on theology, it’s always good to discuss God’s Holy Word.

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  2. Thanks for your thoughts Travis, MUCH appreciated! You have great questions and make completely valid points. I take another angle on those things, with a good bit of help from author/pastor Greg Boyd and starting with Jesus. Starting with Jesus, what is God’s “wrath”? What would Jesus do? Smite? Harm? Kill? Cause illness? I believe we see a resounding no. So, then what do we do with other portraits of God? We see several passages that reveal the consequences of sin (including death) outside punishments imposed by God, but actually natural results of what we do (there’s a Psalm that perfectly illustrates this, but I can’t recall it at this moment, so sorry about that). When we dig deeper and look at the books of the Bible when they were written chronologically we see a progressive revelation. We see at first the authors thought it was God who directly harmed, killed, etc. Then as God revealed more of God’s self to people we see them more correctly attributing bad things elsewhere (the angel of Death for example). As we read it all in context and as a progressive revelation, we see God’s “wrath” is a withdrawal of protection so we experience the natural consequences of our actions AND it’s ALWAYS with the purpose/hope of restoring us unto fullness (much like Israel’s captivity). That’s my understanding and read on things anyway. Thanks for your thoughts!

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    1. Ah I see your points and I know where you are coming from. God in the old testament appears to be different in the New. However, God is the same yesterday, today and forevermore. Recall that God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are three and the same. When the Father makes a decision the whole Trinity is in unison concerning that decision. The Son and The Holy Spirit are God manifested in physical and spiritual form.

      “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” – Colossians 1:15
      “the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us” – 1 John 1:2
      “By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” – 1 John 4:13
      “For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. – 1 John 5:7-8

      I understand what you mean, you are basically saying God lifts His hand from us at times and so we are harmed indirectly rather than directly. That is the case of Job. God told Satan he could do whatever he pleased to Job except take his life. GOD knew that Job would remain faithful through the trial, but of course he still had to humble Job afterwards. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+2&version=NASB
      Do not be deceived though brother, we are to fear the LORD with reverence. Why would we fear Him if we understood Him to only do kind and gentle deeds to us? Job understood that he should not just accept good tidings from God, but trials and tribulation as well. Job worshipped God when his family was crushed and his servants slain. Remember this as well, Christ is in the Old Testament too, not just the New. We see him enter Abraham’s camp and he accepts food and drink from Abraham. We see Him wrestle with Jacob as well. Jacob prevailed, but Jesus struck Jacob’s side and placed his hip out of joint. That’s when Christ changed his name from Jacob to Israel. Aaron’s sons were consumed with fire for burning strange fire on the altar of incense and not entering the tabernacle with reverence. Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for lying to the the Holy Spirit. As I said previously, there is no separate god of the dead in our faith. God the Father has direct control of death and He is our ultimate judge. Hell is very real and His wrath is eternal just as His love is eternal. Understand God fully and not in part.

      For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
      And He scourges every son whom He receives.” – Hebrews 12:6

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      1. Thanks for the engagement! MUCH appreciated. And your thoughts. I try my best to start and end with Jesus, and read everything else in that context. Jesus is the FULL revelation of God, meaning other revelations in the Bible are incomplete, inaccurate, not full, etc. Reading the Bible in light of Jesus and in keeping with Church tradition, like I mention in Part 2 I believe, I understand it not all to be literally or completely factual. I like what Greg Boyd has to say about the ugly pictures we get of God killing, maiming, etc. To grossly oversimplify it: God has ALWAYS looked like Jesus on the Cross. God has ALWAYS took on the sins, slights, wrongs, misconceptions, etc. of the world. God has stooped to us to the point of letting us write, believe, and think things about and attribute things our good Creator that are not true of our Lord. That’s how I read the wrath and such. As a dad I’ve found imposing punishments to be ineffective, yet letting natural consequences be the punishment has been very effective. The most common phrase in the Bible is “fear not”. Nearly EVERY time God or an angel appears to humanity they remind us “fear not”. Awe? Yes! Fear? No. Fear is NOT part of love. There’s a difference. Fear isn’t relationship, it’s slavery. IMHO anyway. Awe and Love have set me free, while seeing God through fearful eyes intensified my slavery. When it comes to hell I’ll simply note a few things. MUCH of what we read into the Bible is thoughts we got from Dante, the Greeks, etc. Many of the times it’s translated “hell”, the Greek/Hebrew doesn’t back that up. It’s always been orthodox in Christianity to think of no hell, hell as a purgatory of reformation before salvation, hell as elimination, and hell as eternal conscious torment. I bounce between 1 and 2 largely in light of Jesus and plethora of passages, which I discuss (well only 50 of them) in this blog: https://gracenpeaceyoga.com/2017/11/11/believing-love-wins-beauty-is-everywhere-and-salvation-is-for-all-will-revolutionize-your-life/ Once again. Thanks so much, this is fun and YOU ROCK!

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  3. Haha well thank you for saying I rock, I appreciate that. I’m glad you enjoy the discussion as well, I didn’t want it to come across as an attack, so that let’s me know you don’t mind the discussion. That’s one difficulty in conversing over written word, emotion and tone are absent.

    Anyway, I agree that starting and ending with Jesus is the best way to read scripture. Everything in the Old Testament points to Christ. Then again everything in the New points back to Christ. The reason for that is because Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. There is NO OTHER WAY to the Father. So, I’ve read your other post and the one you directed me to. Lang, the problem I see there is this, what of sin? If ALL are destined to Heaven, then why are we in need of a Savior? I’m not under the belief of destiny, but I do believe that the Free gift of Christ is offered to all as you said. Even though the gift of Salvation in Christ is indeed freely given, it can still be rejected. Christ died FOR ALL as you said, yet, not ALL accept Him to be who He says He is. Lord of lords, King of kings, Alpha and Omega. Yes I agree wholeheartedly that God our Father is mighty and magnificent and I love your awe you express towards Him.
    However, The fact is, we are not deserving of such love as you describe throughout your writing. We are saved by grace through Faith as Paul states it. Faith in the death and RESURRECTION of our Lord and that Christ is indeed the only Son of God. You don’t have to live in fear of God due to our sinfulness, (I think that’s what caused you to view God as you once did, just my take on what I’ve read.) but that is only because of the Blood and sacrifice of Jesus the Messiah. He is our mediator, He covers our sin and shortcomings. Christ is our source as you said, our eternal bread, or everlasting water (John chapters 3 and 4), but outside of Him what is our source? It can’t be other world views/religions, or inner peace or inner goodness. Those sources only supply for a time, they aren’t eternal. We can live at peace and without fear because God literal indwells His children. Adopted into the family of God the Holy Spirit indwells us and makes us a new creation.

    I have some post that I’ve written that go in more detail as Christ being our source. https://philippians413site.blog/2017/03/13/roots/
    https://philippians413site.blog/2017/01/07/trinity-our-guide/

    Concerning Hell, ehh well that’s something that you’ll have to conclude on your own. Very few believe Hell is a total annihilation, in fact, the only group I can think of that does are Jehovah witnesses. There’s the lake of Fire that’s reserved for Satan and his demons, so that indicates to me that his torment is separate from what humans experience. It still isn’t pleasant, gnashing of the teeth, utter darkness, not fun, yet real. Jesus talks about it Himself In Luke chapter 16 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+16&version=NASB
    So, look over that, I would encourage you to look into other sermons by pastors on the subject as well. I am interested to see what Mr. Greg Boyd has to say. Could you maybe attach a YouTube video of one of his sermons? I can recommend some pastors that I look up to as well if you would like for me to.

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  4. Great thoughts! Thanks! I hear you on blogs, etc. lacking tone, facial expressions, etc. so it’s easier to take offense, get defensive, be misunderstood, etc. A thought on Christ being the Way and Source is Christ being much bigger than I had previously understood/been told. Have you heard of the Cosmic Christ (which is really just the Christ)? Again, this is one of those orthodox things I’d never heard of. Anyway, we see Paul hardly ever referring to Jesus (less than ten times I believe) and always referring to Jesus the Christ or Christ. We see it described beautifully in Colossians 1, Ephesians 1, and John 1. The pre-exist, eternal Christ, which Jesus was the local, specific manifestation of. My point being, and you’ll see in those passages, that the Christ is everywhere and in everyone. He’s the blueprint of ALL people and ALL reality. He’s the energy between and in us ALL. My point being, especially when you take into consideration God telling Moses His name is “I am”, i.e. I am beyond naming, I am Being itself, is that I’m open to the possibility/probability of people working with, following, dancing with, etc. the Christ without using that specific name. After all, Jesus’ actual name was Joshua. Jesus is the translation of His name into Latin and then English, when we translate it straight across we get Joshua.

    I’m 100% with you that God/Jesus can be rejected. I’m hopeful, not deterministic in my universal Christian salvation. Love requires choice and God freely gives us choice, I just can’t imagine how a person would reject the love of Papa forever. I think deserving/undeserving when it comes to God’s Love is the wrong category. We are LOVED. PERIOD. Wildly, immensely, freely, and fully loved. Love needs no reason, it IS the reason. We see this in great human relationships, how much MORE with God? Absolutely Jesus’ death frees us from the bondage of Sin and Death. It’s definitely not something we could do alone. As opposed to reading things in the Bible individually (i.e. “you” meaning a singular person) it’s nearly always better to read them as “you all”, plural, because they nearly always are. Our conception of the individual is a completely foreign category to the people of the Bible times, they had no sense of that, they had collective identities, so sin would be collective, not individual. Our conception of individual is a modern invention.

    On what you reference for hell and Jesus’ sayings, from my studies I understand that as referring to a literal place and actions outside the city of Jerusalem. And His point being: If you don’t follow the path of peace and insist on violence (i.e. what they assumed the Messiah and God was like and going to be about) it’s going to end poorly for you. And it did with the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem. There was literally weeping and gnashing of teeth. What He said came true. And could for us too, here and now, if we don’t follow His Way. We read eternity INTO what Jesus says because of Dante and our biases.

    Here’s Greg Boyd’s site where you can find sermons and lots of other good stuff: http://reknew.org

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  5. Hmm Cosmic Christ, well I know God placed a sense of right vs. wrong in each person (our conscious), but I can’t say Christ dwells in all. Unless He is standing at the door of their heart and they haven’t let Him in. Hearts of stone exist and Christ offers the heart of flesh. Christ is simply the greek word for the Messiah and yes His name is not technically Jesus, but no matter His name His name is revered by all such titles. When He said, “I Am” He was literally saying I am God. The Jews at Nazareth tried to throw Him off of a cliff for making such a claim. “I Am” is what the Father told Moses to refer to Him as, so that tells us that Jesus and the Father are one and the same. As you said, Colossians especially points to the fact that Christ is the physical manifestation of God. I seem to preach to the choir a lot and I apologize haha. I just get excited. So yes, we agree on much, but our view of God is still very different. I suppose we will have to agree to disagree, just remember that Christ is the ONLY WAY and He is our mediator.

    I’ll definitely check out Greg Boyd’s site, thanks for that!

    Here are some resources you can check out if you would like as well.
    https://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-sword.html
    https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/why-hell-exists
    https://www.desiringgod.org/topics/heaven-hell
    https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/gods-wrath-vengeance-is-mine-i-will-repay-says-the-lord/excerpts/is-hell-just-a-metaphor

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  6. I love the excitement! I feel the same! 🙂 Thanks for the links. I hope I answered some of your questions and thoughts in the last two blogs (Part 4 and 5) in the series. Thanks for a great conversation!

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