“Dealing” with God

“Dealing” with God. No, I don’t mean God is a God who makes deals in the way we think of it. He does make conditional promises. He will do this if we do that. Most of them are tied to His giving blessing to those  who obey Him and  demonstrate to reverence Him. It’s not at all about “mutual back-scratching.” Other gods are like that. You offer some kind of special “sacrifice” or make a donation or give the god the kind of thing the god wants. This is a “tit for tat” relationship. Our God is not like that. Under this sort of arrangement, you live in fear that you’ve not done enough, not given enough or not “scratched” in the right place. Are you a Christian who in some way believes along these lines? Regrettably, you’re not alone.

If I’m good enough (by whatever standard of measure I create) I will get married happily. If I read my devotions every day I will live a long life and cancer will not be my problem, at least until I am 98 years old. If I am honest at work and earn the respect of others, I won’t lose my job. If I say my prayers faithfully my kids won’t rebel and I’ll go to heaven. Not so fast! The problem with this model of “faith living” is that it presupposes that the God of the Bible has needs and therefore can offer Him something that He needs and wants. Really?

This type of “barter system” may work with other gods but not with a God who is self-sufficient and infinite. What on earth (which incidentally, He created) can you or I offer Him? The Apostle Paul in Acts 17:25 says “And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything.” God does not need us. Is that a stunner? He does not wait for our Sundays as the choirs and worship teams sing His praise and His people gather to worship and celebrate Him. He has not been lonely. He is not starved for worship. He was not waiting for us to drop Him a few coins so His kingdom enterprise can push along. He doesn’t need anything. So how do you have a relationship with a God like that?

The truth that He doesn’t need anything does not mean, however, that He does not respond to us and that He cannot be pleased with us. Quite the contrary. Completing Paul’s statement in v.25, “because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.” He knows when a sparrow falls to the ground. He knows how many hairs are on our heads. (Matt. 10:29-30). He keeps count! He knows the number of our years and when we will breathe our last. God has sanctioned all of these things and so much more. We are dependent on Him . . . for life . . . for breath . . .for food . . . for health. We are dependent on the Creator, not Him on us. We are here to read these words because He sanctions it. God is intensely personal. What a privilege to know Him and grow in relationship with Him!

And yet, our human nature wrestles so often with what we can do to gain His attention or merit His favor. Too often we are tempted to gravitate back to this trap of living by legalism instead of immersing ourselves in God’s lavish, other-worldly grace. Grace is not unbelievable, but it can be hard to comprehend.  Internalizing the depth of this grace is the believer’s only hope for joy and satisfaction in this life and the life to come. Understanding, experiencing and applying the grace of God to daily life is criticalif a believer is to live as God intended. Do you find yourself on the treadmill of trying to perform to gain God’s acceptance? Then pull the plug and get off. Think About It.