Is God Your Problem?
What is your basic problem?
Sometimes this is an exclamation of frustration with someone who irritates us. But at a far deeper level this is a question that must be answered by every person regarding how they relate to their eternal existence. Our beliefs about the real root issue in our problem of sin affect and shape our opinions about salvation and determine how we answer this question for ourselves.
As I currently see it, there are two ways of answering this question – other than attempting to live in denial that God even exists. Either I will believe that God is my problem who must be placated in order for me to be saved, or my own choices, beliefs and resulting behaviors are out of alignment with the principles of cause and effect created by God to serve as the undergirding of all of creation.
This is not just an exercise to discuss religion or philosophy. Rather this is a vitally important question with the potential to clarify what direction we are headed whether we like to admit it or not.
Over recent years I have been coming to realize that most of my life has been spent living in fear because I believed that God was my problem. But if God actually is my problem, intuitively I find it extremely difficult if not impossible to spontaneously love Him from my heart. At the same time I have been instructed that I am supposed to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and spirit and to love my neighbor as myself or else I will be in trouble with God. This brings me back to the original question – is God the basic problem I have to deal with in order to rectify what is wrong in my life?
There are infinite variations of opinions that all fall under this category of believing that God is the problem that must be resolved in order for one to be saved. I am familiar with many of them but don't find it particularly helpful to dwell on them at length. What I am coming to learn however is that the truth about my problem with sin is my resistance to embracing that God is far better than I ever dared to imagine and my real problem is my denial of personal responsibility for resisting that truth.
When sin first gained access into the hearts of humans on this planet, the very first symptom of mental illness that showed up was fear and distrust of God. But immediately following was the practice of blaming. Blaming and shaming others are sure signs that distrust and fear towards God are controlling the heart of a person. When we move away from believing that God loves us, cares for us deeply and can be fully trusted to provide everything we need at all times, the immediate reaction is to step into the gap to attempt to provide for our needs and our own happiness by relying on other means and sources. But in doing so we activate counterfeit principles that result in all sorts of dysfunction, pain, fear, dissonance, broken relationships and ultimately death. Yet even while all these things may help us sense something is wrong in our lives, we still want to believe our problems are the fault of someone other than us, so we conjure up all kinds of explanations as to why we cannot feel at peace.
Blaming, scape-goating, accusing and any number of variations of the same attitude are indicators that we are living in denial of reality as God designed it. God created fundamental principles that operate in cause and effect that cannot be overturned, revoked or ignored without dire results. But these negative encounters are not imposed by God but rather are a natural result of our own choices to violate underlying principles of reality. When we resist believing that the negative consequences we experience are natural effects caused by our own choices and honestly no one else can be blamed for our choices, we feel compelled to invent alternative explanations for what is happening in our lives in order to appear to retain some semblance of sanity and reason.
I don't know how to effectively convey the extreme importance I feel of the need of grasping this truth. Understanding the difference between these opposing ways of viewing reality is to comprehend the difference between darkness and light, truth and error, life and death. Little is more central than coming to perceive that when one continues to believe that God is somehow at least part of our problem, we choose to allow a deadly lie of Satan to distort our perceptions of reality as God designed it. The result of all such thinking is that we continue to live in fear or think that God does not care about us so we need to find ways to live and thrive without Him to one degree or another.
This is the fundamental problem of sin, for the roots of sin did not originate because someone offended God by breaking imposed laws. Rather, sin resulted when a brilliant, perfect being called Lucifer, one who had by design been the prominent conveyer of the truth about God to all the rest of the universe, chose to entertain untrue speculations about God, notions that God might somehow be selfish in some way because He had created all beings to worship Him and His Son.
What Lucifer did not take into account was the fact that created beings by design need to worship their Creator in order to be fulfilled, happy and function fully in their appointed places in God's great circuit of life. God has designed that all creatures need to participate in this circuit of love and life, part of which involves this great concert of praise. Each one receives life and love from God either directly and/or through various other channels all designed to keep them connected in the circuit of life. By receiving life and love for the purpose of passing it along to others, gratitude, praise and glory are generated as by-products that in turn are to be offered directly back to God along with appreciation to those through whom they received some of His life.
By presuming that he could redesign God's circuit and could insert himself into a position where he might also receive worship like the Son enjoyed, Lucifer dissonance was created for the very first time disrupting the beautiful symphony of praise and worship of God. Thus began what has since turned into a cacophony of jarring suffering, disillusionment, mayhem and death that has unsettled the entire universe and threatened the government of God.
Created beings everywhere were affected by this attempted coup of God's throne as Lucifer, then turned Satan the accuser, perpetuated and intensified myriads of lies about God's character undermining confidence of created beings and disrupting the beautiful circuit of life and love.
The lies Satan has effectively used to subvert all who accepted them involve doubts about how God feels towards them and particularly those who resist cooperating with His will for their lives. When the highest authority of a government is under suspicion from charges involving His integrity, it becomes difficult for Him to govern effectively, especially if that government wants to operate based solely on the trust of those under its authority.
By slandering God's reputation Satan has effectively aroused doubt about God's integrity. And one of the most diabolical and subtle ways which he has brought this about is through redefining how we perceive God's method of governing. By getting us to presume that God runs His government like selfish people operate ours here on this earth, we blame God for most if not all the problems we see in our world because we assume that these problems result from improper or ineffective control or even irresponsible choices on the part of the One in charge. “If God is so power and loving, then why....?”
There is an even more subtle deception that has blinded us purported by Satan. By leading us to believe the government of God is run on similar law contructs like we use, believing that at least some of God's laws are arbitrary and imposed and thus have to be enforced by God, Satan has led us to believe that God's government functions like our governments do, through impositions of punishments whenever rules are disobeyed or enticements of rewards to encourage compliance. But this assumes that God's laws are artificial rather than natural principles of cause and effect that need no outside enforcements.
This view of God's government is one of the most subtle ways in which we have been deceived. By seducing our first parents into embracing this fundamental shift in their view of reality, humanity became infected with the notion that God is at least in some ways arbitrary and therefore is obligated to enforce His rules arbitrarily. Yet this obscures the very design of reality as God created it and denies the foundational truth that all of God's laws involve natural principles that operate as cause and effect and need no externally imposed reinforcement.
When this is clearly seen and embraced, we can then begin to appreciate more clearly the real issues in the war over God's method of governing and His character and how we are designed to fit into the circuit of life. We will also discover that what we have presumed about our own problems and bad things that happen to us are actually very different than what we have long presumed. By simply coming to see that God operates His government relying on the synchronizing principles that govern reality instead of using artificial means to control His subjects as we do here on earth, we can then begin to experience more fully the freedom and peace that truth brings and will find ourselves healing from the distortions, deceptions and confusion we have suffered under for so long.
Believing lies about how God runs His government produces distrust of God's heart. The entire plan of salvation revolves around dispelling the distrust that has been created in the minds and hearts of beings everywhere brought on by the lying insinuations and accusations of His chief protagonist Satan. All the malfunction, dissonance and ill-effects experienced anywhere in the universe result from choices to live out of harmony with God's natural principles that define and govern reality. God does not need to impose sentences of punishment or impose punishments artificially; He only needs to allow the natural effects of underlying principles to function as designed. This is the design that is counterfeited in the way we run our systems here in this world.
The very fact that we are kept alive while out of harmony with so many of the natural laws that govern reality is evidence of God's forbearance, love and grace. This should awaken a deeper appreciation in our hearts for Him. God is never our problem. All the problems we have result from either our own choices – some from ignorance and others from rebellion – or the choices of other free beings around us who likewise act in either rebellion or ignorance of natural principles. Yet in all of our malfunction God constantly intervenes to preserve us from fully experiencing the effects that would be inevitable without His protection.
The truth of reality is that God's love is absolutely pure and untainted with selfishness in any way. God does not stoop to manipulation or desire control to dominate us. His authority resides in the appreciation of those who choose to live in trust that He has their best interest in mind and is fully trustworthy to never abuse His power. God intends to run the entire universe on the basis of trust, love and freedom alone. But more amazingly He intends to win the war against His government that use intimidation, force and fear by relying solely on His original methods all the way to the end. This is the only way to achieve full perfection and safety for the kind of government He desires for eternity, for any indulgence on His part to use methods of His enemy at any time would create an opening for the infection of selfishness and fear to reenter His universe.
The purity of God and of all those who live in His presence and submit to His authority is a purity of motive. We tend to think of purity only in terms of morality or sexuality, but this misses the real issue. Purity is primarily about agape love, the absolute absence of any trace of selfishness on the part of the One who rules the entire universe. It is this truth that must become prominent in our thinking so as to bring us back into alignment with the circuit of life and love as God designed it. Then we can be reconnected into our proper places in that circuit, receiving love and life and joy from those around us and with that creating praise and honor and glory to offer directly back to God, the originator of all life.
It is the lies of sin that lead us to think that God is in any way complicit in the cause of our problems or is looking for reasons to punish us. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5) Darkness involves false notions about God being the source of any of our problems or having anything remotely like selfishness. Jesus came to this earth as God's representative to dispel any and all such notions. By allowing our selfishness to be exposed in the reactions that sinful beings had to such intense selfless love all the way to the point of torturing and killing God Himself, the cross serves as the tipping point that will serve for eternity to ensure the security of God's government from any recurrence of doubts about His integrity or questions about the purity of His passionate love for His creatures.
Jesus stated plainly in John 3 that God only loves the world and has no intention or desire to condemn it. Paul tells us that Jesus in His death condemned sin in the flesh, but He never condemns sinners. God's love is constant, consistent and irrepressible. God is not our problem – ever. It is our distrust and unbelief in God's kind of love that produces all the problems of sin.
Sin is primarily distrust and unbelief of the real truth about what is in God's heart. Sin/distrust in God results in fear of loss, and if it were true that God was the way He has been portrayed to be by His enemies there would be legitimate reason to be afraid. If God withdrew His love and life because of our offenses then the presumptions we operate under could be valid. But our feelings and fallen natures are infected with lies about Him that must not be believed at the risk of our lives. God is not like we think He is but rather is exactly like Jesus. And that is the good news of the gospel. God is not our problem, so there is no reason to distrust Him or be afraid to come to Him for healing and reconciliation.
What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? (Romans 8:31-32)
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)