A discussion starter: How do you get God to like you?

February 26, 2013

One of my best friends passed on a discussion question from a Bible study group. Here goes: what do you think you have to do to get God to like you? Participants were to pose this question to three different individuals. I can imagine there would be some pretty diverse and compelling answers. My friend made the mistake of asking me. This discussion starter is just laden with possibilities.

I have to resist going full-on Calvinist because the topic deserves a little lighter touch. It is not a seminary final exam, after all. This many take some of the laughs out of the conversation but let us put the concept of “total depravity” aside. God is infinitely holy and may not tolerate that which is defiled. I am prepared to stipulate that human beings are a bad lot.

Liking is a human characteristic? Can God, the absolute “other,” like a think or a being in the same way that humans might? Let’s break this down a little, so please feel free to add your own comments. And, yes, I am going to get down to the “love” distinction, so just settle down for a few paragraphs.

If God were to “like” a thing or person, he would do so completely, perfectly and eternally. Humans fall out of “like” whenever something gets old or damaged. An individual might be likable, until he ran out of money, got sick, came out of the closet, or changes political parties. We are fickle. There is a tendency to like what is convenient and familiar. God approves of his creation. That may qualify as a like. Does God like me? Well, in the very strictest sense, he certainly does. God is with me through thick and thin, but that is because God is faithful and does not have any resemblance to my fallen human nature. God sticks with me despite my many failings.

That is actually love. The Father has, “blessed us [believers] in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” (Eph 1:3-5). God loves us even before we existed – before anything existed. God has an eternal purpose to reconcile all creation under the rule of Jesus Christ (Eph 1:7-10).

Yes, Christians are saved by grace through faith. God offers his divine favor as a gift. There is no give-and-take with God anyway. It’s always all-give and the Almighty’s generosity cannot be outdone. What’s more, he loves every human being. We mortals are bound up in prejudices and presumptions that often restrain our outgoing affections. There is always a certainly weakness in all human dealings. God plans to spend eternity with many of the beings created in his image and likeness.

If God likes humanity, it is not with the flighty uncertainty of mankind. He put on human flesh and came down to live and die among fallen people. That is a powerful, wild, boundless kind of love that we just do not “get” while dwelling in the ordinary human mind. We try to know the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator, but he is completely unlike us or anything we have ever encountered. He cares about the creation, about the church, and every one of us with a concern that knows no boundaries.

And so we struggle to know what he is like and to be more like him. Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity and express image of the Father,  sets the example. Before the crucifixion, he called the disciples friends. How is that possible? He said that knowing that all but one would soon abandon him to the Roman executioners. Such an extension of friendship can only happen in the divine economy of complete love and generosity.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: