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.
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!
Grace and peace,