Alexandra Marcus, Compassionate Ministries / South Africa
To a woman of atrocities:
“How can you believe in God?”
“God is not doing this. Man is doing this. My Bible tells me that God Loves me.”
“But tangibly; How can you be sure?”
“Because you came. You brought me his Love.”
There are so many ways of thinking of a god. So many of the ways that people think of god’s have to do can be seen in the way that Alexandra’s question framed it.
When asking someone who has been hurt or is being hurt, “How can you believe in God?” we frame our god as a fountain that gives a flow of preconceived blessings.
But after all that is the way we think of gods. We are small and weak that they are these superheroes who deliver and demand.
They make it rain and stop raining
They make the crops grow
They strike down our enemies
They give us life and kill us
They love us and punish us
The Great Spirit of the Native American brought rain
The Hindu god Shiva is the destroyer
Apollo road the sun across the sky
Cupid makes us fall in love (like we need help with that)
He Myan Goddess Ixtab makes you hang yourself (pleasant)
It’s as if we have taken everything that we can’t explain and created a God for it.
So how do we avoid doing that?
What does the Bible tell us about who God is?
God is Holy
God is beyond our understanding
God is jealous
God is always near
God is three in one
God is Love
But there are a ton of worng perceptions of God that come along for the ride.
God is a “Pouncer” who is just waiting on me to mess up.
To quote Bruce Almighty “Smite me oh mighty smite’r!”
You know if you read only the juicy parts of the Old Testament then you could be led to believe this is true.
Like any other part of scripture you have to understand the context of what happened.
Those of us who have read the whole book let us assure you that God’s pattern went more like this.
Love, Tolerance, instruction, tolerance, instruction, Tolerance, instruction, tolerance, instruction, warning, Tolerance, instruction, tolerance, instruction, warning, punishment.
Loving, blessing, gifts… Tolerance, instruction, tolerance, instruction, Tolerance, instruction, tolerance, instruction, Tolerance, instruction, tolerance, instruction,
In fact, even the first murder was sent away, not destroyed. No, God’s response to Cain’s murderous jealous tantrum that left his brother dead was to send him away to find a new way of making a living and tell everyone else to leave him alone. (Genesis 4)
No God is no “mighty smite’r”.
We actually find that find that he is more like a loving parent who hates to punish. But loving His children he must allow them to continue to walk in a way that will destroy them.
So is He a Push Over (He Loves me, so he’ll forgive me anything).
He’s a Sugar daddy. He’ll give me anything I want.
Jesus says in Matthew 21:22
“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
Didn’t God tell us that we need to do is ask him and we will be given our hearts desire?
Is that what he said?
Ask, and Ye Shall Receive
7″Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
9″Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!Matthew 18:19
19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
9″So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
11″Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[a] a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
13And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
23In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
So that nails it right?
I gotta go. My 1967 Camaro is outside….
What? That isn’t the idea? Well then What is it?
No, this is a real God. This is not some mythical creation made up by man to explain the things we cannot explain. This is the real God who has real relationships with real human beings.
This is the same Jesus who told Thomas when he doubted His return to come, touch the wounds and know that I’m really here.
This is the same God who reacted to the sin of Adams and Eve by sewing clothes for them out of the flesh of animals.
This is a real God who longs for real relationship with you.
So what does he mean?
Again let’s look at the context of what he is saying.
When you are speaking to your children and you tell them that they can eat anywhere they want for their birthday do you really mean anywhere they want?
So if they insisted that we all eat mud pies for dinner would that be what we would all eat?
Jesus says in Matthew 7 “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?
Well ask yourself, if your son asked to eat a stone how many of you would grant that?
So there is the difference between our God and some “drive-up window” god.
Jesus Christ is real
Jesus Christ has called us to real relationship with Him. He has not hung a vending area sign over his head. He has invited you to be in a real relationship with the Father who longs to give you all you need to live in complete relationship with Him.
The phrases signify to seek with earnestness, and diligence, and perseverance. The promise is, that what we seek shall be given us.
It is of course implied that we seek with a proper spirit, with humility, sincerity, and perseverance.
John puts it this way.
1 John 5:14
14This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
It is implied, also, that we ask the things which it may be consistent for God to give that is, things which he has promised to give, and which would be best for us and his kingdom.
Ask and God will / has provided us with:
· Forgivness of our sins
· The Salvation of our souls
· A friend to us in times of trial
· A comforter to us in death
The point is that we cannot out ask God’s ability to give to us what we need.
Every one that asketh receiveth. That is, every one that asks aright, that prays in faith, and in submission to the will of God. He does not always give the very thing which we ask, but he gives what would be better.
A parent will not always confer the very thing which a child asks, but he will seek the welfare of the child, and give what he thinks will be most for its good.
Paul asked that the thorn from his flesh might be removed. God did not literally grant the request, but told him that his grace should be sufficient for him.
2 Corinthians 12:7-9
7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
Ask and you be given…
A real relationship with a real God, your Father who Loves you.