“Wanting God to be God is very different from wanting God to help us.”
(Gulp.) I was arrested by that statement. It followed in the wake of a related question that’s been on my mind lately. Namely, Does God exist for me--to bless me, help me, answer all my questions, provide all my needs (and wants and longings and dreams…)—or in fact, do I exist for Him?! Yikes.
Do you ever wonder how much you are affected by living in a narcissistic culture—a culture that encourages you to find yourself, take care of yourself, pursue your dreams, and be happy! Has this message seeped into my life? Am I jarred at how it clashes with Jesus’ words on how to really find life…
--“He who loves his life will lose it. He who loses it for the sake of the Kingdom of God will find it”. That’s pretty counter-cultural.
--“Take no thought what you will eat, drink, wear…” Wait a minute, what about going ‘organic’, drinking vitamin water just case I missed anything or at least buying filtered, and wearing bamboo?
--“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” pretty much puts any self-centered dreams on hold! and
--‘Be happy’ is not a command I recall finding in the Bible. “Happy are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake” is more like it…
So what am I saying? I’m wondering if it’s possible to be a frog warming in a frying pan and not know it. Water feels warm, nice, think I’ll just sit here and be cozy… Narcissism is a pretty comfortable state for the ‘old man’ in each of us.
And as for whether God exists for me, well, His word declares He is ‘for us’ doesn’t it?! He didn’t spare even His only Son but gave Him up for us all. How much more freely will He not give us all things?! And He has. We are incredibly blessed in this culture. Even the poorest of us live in comparative wealth. But I think this is precisely where the trouble begins. We begin to mistake material gain for spiritual blessing. Yes, God has blessed me incredibly with a family, a home, even a car and a dog... And every day He ‘loadeth me with benefits’. But have all these material benefits actually duped me into thinking these are God’s primary blessings in my life?! Or that He exists for my benefit? How has this affected my expectations of Him? (What does my ‘wish list’ look like?) Does your family grab the ‘wishbone’ when you gobble a turkey and make a wish before you pull? What do you wish for?
Have I begun to think God is obligated to provide for my comfort? In fact, He wants me happy and that’s why He’s there inviting me to ask for whatever I want. I can begin to be deluded that God is there for me. And my ‘spiritual’ life can begin to be all about me. Even pursuing Christlikeness can be self-gratifying. After all, who doesn’t want perfect peace, joy and fellowship? I will be happier when I am like Jesus, right? And besides, when I’m like Jesus, my kids will see Him and want to be like Him more and that too will make me happy! It’s all about me.
OK, so this is beginning to be a little confusing. Am I thinking too hard here? There’s more to say about the other half of the picture—that I’m here FOR HIM. But first, let me know if you’re following this train of thought at all…
I’ll leave you for this week with another quote from the man who made the opening one.
“God being God offends human pride. If God is running the universe and has first claim on our lives, guess who isn’t running the universe and does not get to have things as they please?”
Eager for your thoughts on the matter,
Quotes from: Renovation of the Heart in Daily Practice (Willard & Johnson), p.41,37