Did you know there is a right way and a wrong way to perceive God?
Based on your perception of Him, you will experience one of two possible relationships:
- A relationship of fearful obedience, where you believe that God is a God of love, and that He exercises His great power to enforce the laws of His kingdom. He loves you, but if you don’t love Him back, He will have to torture and/or kill you with fire.
- A relationship of loving trust, where you believe that God is a God of love, and that He exercises that love to entice you into a loving relationship with Himself so He can save you from your fatal condition. Like the help from a doctor, you can follow His plan and live, or you can reject it and suffer and die.
What determines the relationship you will have with God is how you perceive God.
It is actually the same for any relationship you have. Your perception of someone will determine your thoughts and feelings toward that person. If you do not perceive a person accurately, you will have the wrong idea about that person, as well as the wrong feelings toward that person.
How Lies Destroy Relationships
If you hear that your neighbor is a heartless animal abuser who gets drunk every night and beats his wife, what is your perception of that neighbor? What happens to that perception when the happy couple visits and you realize that he isn’t who “they” say he is, and she is desperately in love with him? In fact, you realize that the person who told you the lies about them is actually jealous of the relationship and wants it to break up!
How many of us have experienced a relationship where we thought we were dating this wonderful person, but come to discover that they are not who they pretended to be?
Imagine you are a parent going through a terrible divorce. A judge grants you very limited visitation rights to your children, and your ex-spouse is extremely angry at you. Your ex tells many lies about you to your children, until they refuse to visit with you.
It is the same with our perception of God. If you have the wrong perception of God–if you believe the lies His enemies tell about Him–you will be afraid of Him or even deny His existence.
The wonderful truth is, with an accurate perception of God, you will fall in love with Him. You won’t be able to help it!
What have you heard about the God of the Bible?
Is God a “loving” Dictator threatening to torture or kill you if you disobey, or is God a loving “Father,” wanting to heal you of your malady so you do not die?
Is it loving to threaten to kill someone if you do not love them back?
Ladies, imagine you are dating a wonderful man. You think he might be the one! He has a great job, loves his mother, and treats you with great respect.
At dinner one night, he pulls out a box from his jacket pocket and opens it to reveal an engagement ring. He says, “I have loved you since the moment I laid eyes on you. Will you marry me?”
You are flustered! Sure, you haven’t been dating that long, but he sure seems to be an amazing catch!
He notices your hesitation, and says, “I’ve been good to you, haven’t I? I’ve paid for wonderful trips to exotic beaches. I’ve clothed you with the best clothing money can buy. I’ve taken you out to dinner on many occasions to expensive restaurants. I really want to be with you!”
He reaches into his jacket again and pulls out a gun.
“I really do love you, and I want you to marry me. But if you don’t want to, I’ll have no choice but to kill you.”
What woman would be thinking to herself, “Wow! He must really love me!”
We all know that this is not rational. It certainly isn’t love.
But that’s what we’ve been told about God! He really does love us, and He even sent His Son to die for us! But if we don’t love Him back, He will have to kill us.
The Good News Is Great News
Sadly, the Christian church today is not preaching the Good News that Jesus left to us. This world has not been exposed to the Gospel since shortly after Jesus ascended into heaven.
Almost immediately after Jesus left us, the church was persecuted. Those who sought to destroy the newborn church only facilitated its growth! Upon realizing that persecution was not going to work, they set about to corrupt it from within.
The enemies of Jesus infiltrated the church and corrupted its message. Instead of presenting to the world a God of love who has the character of Jesus, it has presented a God of lust with the character of the enemy.
Thankfully, we have the testament about Jesus. Jesus dispels the lies that are told about the God of the Bible. In fact, that was His very mission!
I have revealed you [God the Father] to the ones you gave me from this world. (John 17:6)
Here, Jesus says He has “revealed the Father” to that early church. They were to continue taking that revelation to the world. Sadly, humanity was deceived again by that ancient serpent.
Jesus reveals that God is not an arbitrary tyrant seeking to bend all to his will at the threat of death, but instead is a loving Father wanting to heal His children from a fatal disease.
Being threatened by a dictator with death for disobedience is not the same as being diagnosed with a fatal disease by a doctor.
Is it reasonable for a doctor to warn you of the consequences of not treating a fatal disease? Yes!
With the right perception of God, fear dissipates and love has the freedom to grow.
God is not the power-hungry dictator His enemies have made Him out to be. He does not threaten to kill you if you do not love Him back, but He does offer a prognosis if you do not take His Remedy.
The Law of Worship
There is a significant consequence of your perception of and relationship with God with regard to how you treat others.
There is a natural law called “the law of worship.” The Bible phrases it this way:
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
Today, we could phrase it more clinically like this:
We are changed neurobiologically and characterologically to become like what we admire, worship, and spend time watching and assimilating.
Or, even most simply: We are changed by what we perceive.
So, if you admire and worship a God who is harsh and arbitrary and who uses force to get his way, you will adopt those same characteristics over time and become harsh and arbitrary toward others. This might manifest in your being more concerned with “keeping laws” than with enjoying relationships, much like the leaders of the church in Jesus’ day. The Pharisees were adamant about keeping the Sabbath, yet they murdered the Lord of the Sabbath.
With this perception of God, you will come to believe that using threats to keep others in line is moral, and that killing someone in God’s name might be necessary or good.
Jesus warned us about that path:
The time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God. John 16:2
Remember, those who killed Jesus were Sabbath-keepers. They were God’s people. They were the church. However, because they did not perceive their Creator accurately–they saw God as bloodthirsty and harsh, exacting and arbitrary–they killed Him.
On the other hand, if you admire and worship a God who is kind, compassionate, merciful, and selfless, you will adopt those same characteristics over time and become kind, compassionate, merciful, and selfless toward others.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22,23
If you don’t see God the Father as a loving Father or Best Friend, one who only desires the very best for you and to heal you of your fatal disease, I implore you to ask Him to show you Himself.
Step By Step To The Light
Here is a step-by-step action list you can follow to ensure you are perceiving God clearly:
- Pray to Him – Ask, “Father, show me who you are.”
- Watch Jesus – Read every day from the Gospel accounts in the Bible. The Gospels recount the time that God the Son walked on earth among men, revealing the truth about God the Father.
The more you watch Jesus, the more you will begin to see Jesus. Seeing Jesus is the key to perceiving God accurately.
Remember when we would tell our moms, “I’m listening!” And she would reply, “But you’re not listening.“
Many people are watching Jesus. It seems fewer are seeing Jesus. Because if you saw Jesus, you could not help but be amazed by Him. When you watch how He treats human beings, you see love in action.
You can then take great comfort in knowing that the Jesus you see is the very Creator God who loves you and died to save you.
See Him as He comforts the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11).
See Him as He forgives those who are torturing and killing Him (Luke 23:34).
See Him as He obeys His mom, even though it means changing God’s plans (John 2:3-8)!
See Him as He dines with “sinners” like you and me (Mark 2:13-17).
Jesus is never arbitrary and harsh. God is never arbitrary and harsh.
Jesus never condemns. God never condemns.
Because Jesus is God and God is love.
God invites you into a relationship with Him, because He loves you, He wants to be with you in paradise, and He is the only one with the remedy to save you.
Once you begin talking to Him (praying) and seeing Him (Bible reading), you will have the right perception of Him.
And having the right perception of Him is the only way to have the right relationship with Him.