Everyone loves an ice-cold glass of soda. On a day that it feels like you could die of thirst, it’s unlikely that you’re going to reject a cool glass of your favourite drink, ice cubes and all. The first taste is sweet, refreshing, and it’s everything you needed it to be in that exact moment. But has anyone ever handed you a drink that was almost empty? You know, the kind of drink where all that’s remaining is a few tasteless sips of soda and some melted ice cubes? It doesn’t taste good, it doesn’t serve its purpose of quenching your thirst, and it’s down-right unpleasant. No one likes watered-down drinks.
The more I talk to people who don’t know God, whether young, old, face-to-face or online, the more I realize that SO many people have been presented with a version of him that is exactly like the analogy above: watered down. The gospel — the world’s sweetest news — has been twisted for so long that what’s left is tasteless and unsatisfying.
The person they believe God to be has been established through a series of impressions and conversations, all making them question if this guy is really all he’s cut out to be. They believe that God (if he even exists) is disinterested in their life, bigoted, mean-spirited, vengeful, or sitting on a throne of judgement somewhere up in the sky, writing in his diary about all the things they should or shouldn’t have done today.
Honestly, as much as God cares about you, he’s not the kind of guy that sits around and criticizes your every move. This version of who God is is so wrong — and to be frank, if this was the same understanding of God that I had, I wouldn’t be interested in developing a relationship with him either.
But it’s not the God that I know.
The truth is, a lot of people who don’t subscribe to the Christian faith didn’t choose that course of action because they disagree with the morals. In fact, most of them will tell you that the do: they advocate for turning the other cheek, and they desire to live a life loving their neighbour. Heck, they also stand up for those who are marginalized and spend their time with the people society might consider the most undeserving.
Does this sound like anyone to you?
To me, it sounds a lot like who Jesus* is, and who Jesus calls us to be as his children.
The problem is not that Christianity is a dying, archaic faith or way of doing life. The problem is that for years, non-believers have been presented with a totally skewed, watered-down version of who God is — and it’s left them running in the opposite direction of believers, churches, and faith communities as a whole.
But can I tell you something, friend?
As hard as it may be to believe it with all of the noise in the world telling you otherwise, God is not mad at you. God is not a perpetual party-pooper. God is not disinterested in your life. He loves you — right now, at this very second. Mess and all.
God Is Not Mad At You
We’ve all done something wrong before. There is not one person on this earth who has lived a blameless life, free from sin. So if God is real, AND he’s blameless, he must be infuriated with us, right?
It’s a common misconception that God is looking down at us in perpetual disappointment. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Psalm 145:8 says, “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.” While he does want us to live our best lives, what God wants more than anything is deep relationship with us — and there is nothing we could do that would change that desire. It breaks my heart to hear so many people say that they’ll pursue a relationship with God once they’ve cleaned their act up first. Please don’t fall for this trap. The truth is, if you wait on perfection, you’ll be waiting forever. There will never be a day that we will be DESERVING of the unconditional love God lavishes on us, but he offers it to us anyway. Accept it today.
God Is Not A Perpetual Party Pooper
I think this myth – while unfortunately believed by so many – is actually quite humourous. I hear it all the time: God doesn’t approve of fun. God is an up-tight killjoy, and being a Christian is boring.
I find it strange that these descriptions and perceptions are associated with the same God believed to have created the universe… The same God who developed your ability to laugh, to express joy, and to experience happiness. The same God who invented the concept of fun, enjoyment, beauty, excitement, love — you name it.
If you’re concerned about living your life to the fullest, you won’t find a life more fulfilling than one living for God. To live for him is to experience what freedom tastes like: freedom from insecurities, freedom from fears, freedom from pain, and greatest of all, freedom from sin and death. I have never been as happy as I have in the years that I’ve given my all to God.
Besides, did you know that one of the first recorded miracles in the Bible occurs in John 2:1-11 when Jesus turns water into wine at a wedding because they ran out? Yeah. Jesus knows how to have fun — and he throws better parties than you.
God Is Not Disinterested In Your Life
You may be wondering, “If God is real, and he’s the actually the creator of the universe, why would he be so interested in MY life?”
The truth is, there is no one who takes as much interest in your life as God. He knit you in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:130). He can count the number of hairs on your head (Luke 12:7). He knows your every thought (Psalm 139:2) — and yet, he loves you completely.
Matthew 6:26 says, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Your life is incredibly valuable to God, and he has a vested interest in who you are. Because he cares so deeply about you, the choices you make and the person you choose to be are important to him. He wants the best for you — so much so that he would send his own son to die in your place so that YOU could experience the freedom of eternal life. While none of us deserve this kind of relentless love, it’s given to us freely. No jumping through hoops, no hard work required, no sacrifices necessary. Free.
God Loves You. Period.
If there’s anything that you need to know about God, it’s that he loves you. He wants to know and be known by you.
On behalf of all the people who have led you astray, made you doubt his existence, or made you question your worth in his eyes, I’m sorry. Whether it was someone who hurt you from the church, a family member who called you crazy or one of those aggressive street-side preachers with a megaphone (will it ever end?!), I apologize for the false representation of Jesus that has been communicated to you for so long. My God is not a God of shame, guilt, or condemnation. He is a God of kindness, joy, grace, love and genuine relationship.
I’ve tasted this love — and I can promise you that it is sweet, refreshing, and unlike anything I’ve ever known. Don’t let the version of Jesus that has been presented to you stop you from experiencing him for yourself.
*Based on the belief that there is one God: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit, also known as the “trinity” in the Christian faith.