I found out this morning that my six-year old son told our six-year-old neighbor (who is not Christian) that if she didn’t believe in God, God would kill her! Whoa! What do you do with that?!! Hmmm . . . I think a little theology lesson is in order!
My first inclination when my neighbors told me this was to wonder what on earth I could have said that would have caused my son to even think that way, let alone scare the daylights out of our little neighbor with the misinformation. I mean, how does a six-year-old even think of something like that?
And then it dawned on me. After all, this kid is a typical boy, running around all day with a sword or a gun, chasing after, or being chased by, his brothers. He’s also extremely passionate in everything he does, whether he is expressing love, or anger, or something in between. So in his little six-year-old mind, it made sense that God would act the same way he would. He was simply projecting his own personality and experience onto God.
Then I got to thinking — don’t we all do that to some degree? Don’t our own experiences (good or bad) with parents and other authority figures, or even our own behavioral tendencies, determine how we see God, or what we expect of Him?
I was blessed to have very loving parents, so it wasn’t a stretch for me to see God as a loving Father. Not everyone is so fortunate. However, I know that I attribute some of my own characteristics to Him; for example, I have a highly developed sense of justice, and I know sometimes I think of God as giving us things when we deserve them (or withholding them when we don’t), rather than just because He loves us and because He is generous and wants only the best for us. I also tend to have a hard time with forgiveness, so I’m not always good at seeking and accepting His forgiveness.
But with this realization comes the more important one that I don’t have to stay stuck in this habit of seeing God through my own foggy lenses, because I have His Word to guide me:
“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts'” (IS 55:8-9 NIV).
And the previous verse says it all: “Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.” Now that’s the God I know and love!