Definitions of God-Part 2
In Loving Memory of Michael Wells
A writer who has profoundly impacted my life in Christ is Michael Wells. In his book, Problems, God’s Presence and Prayer, he moves the defeated believer through a process of changed perceptions and definitions of God, resulting in a level of freedom in Christ that defines the Abundant Life that Jesus promised. I would like to incorporate some of Mike’s teachings into this series. You can find his books, blogs and DVD’s by going to www.abidinglife.com. You can also download from Amazon and Kindle. I highly recommend his books if you are one of those “defeated” believers.
Faulty Definitions of God
There are many believers who seek spiritual realities in their lives and never find them. They are sincere and lack no zeal for or commitment to the project. Why can’t all believers find what is rightfully theirs in Christ? The answer, more often than not, is found in improper definitions of that for which they search. The believers’ definitions of what they seek and God’s definition of what He gives are not the same, so they are seeking for something that God does not intend to give. They (or others for them) have defined incorrectly what it means to be spiritual, to be pleasing to God, to be near to God, to be one with their mates, or to have assurance that they will go to heaven. … In the marriage relationship, both husband and wife possess an intangible dictionary of the heart. We can all readily see how much unmerited conflict is caused for couples because of their differing definitions [i.e. love: 1) constant holding, kissing, overt displays of affection; or, doing good for another, such as cleaning, washing and cooking meals; or 2) working steadily at a job to provide food and shelter for the family.] The truth is that we may both be loving each other as much as we can according to our own definitions; however, we have not loved each other much at all according to the other’s definition. We just haven’t understood what the other wants or means when attempting to receive or give love. This conflict can go so far as to drive mates to give up on each other as each one concludes that the other will never change. Relating to our mates with differing definitions also causes our perceptions of them to be distorted.
If we are the bride of Christ, does it not follow that He has a dictionary containing all the definitions concerning our life together? That dictionary is represented by the Scriptures. We, too, have our own heart dictionaries concerning our relationship with Him. The question is do His definitions and ours match up? If not, we will find ourselves living very unfulfilled, dissatisfied lives, perceiving that we are complete failures and utterly unacceptable to God. (Wells, Michael. Problems, God’s Presence & Prayer. Abiding Life Press, Littleton, CO. 1993, p. 69).
So we can see that our faulty definitions can create a host of problems in our lives, and not simply in our relationship with God. I would argue that the relationship with Jesus in our lives is the very foundation for learning how to relate to others in every area of our lives. Knowing and understanding who we are in Christ is where that foundation begins. So, let’s quit knocking down the spider webs in our lives and go for the spider—wrong perceptions and definitions of God–wrong understanding of who we are in Christ and who Christ is in us. It is also true that not all believers wrestle with these issues, and I personally know many who have never wrestled with them. Mike’s unique approach seems to minister to those who have been caught up in a work/reward/punishment/fail spiral of Christianity and find themselves feeling defeated.
Mike Wells outlines a few of these faulty definitions which we will explore in more detail throughout this series. These are the common definitions based on our unique identities, combined with the identity messages that have been given to us throughout our lives by various people, institutions and even by the enemy who loves to play with our minds:
Faulty Definitions of God
The emotionally absent God: I’m locked out of His presence; I never feel Him; I wonder if God really exists; I’m frustrated—in the world without hope; Where is God? When will I feel Him?
The God of Judgment: He is a vengeful God; He will condemn me in the great Day of Judgment; I’m not certain I’m saved; He is keeping a list, and someday He will get me.
The Distant God: I can’t reach Him; I know He is there, but I call to Him and He does not respond; He frustrates me.
The Explosive God: I never know when He will get tired of my failings and get me; I’m uncertain as to His response to my sin but I’m sure He is finally sick of me; I fear what He will say to me; He keeps a record of good and bad, and the bad is outweighing the good; I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop; He will get even by causing harm in someone that I love; He may take away my health or job to get my attention.
The Dead God: He is not there; when I pray it is like praying to a brick wall; He never helps.
The Manipulating God: I must do everything just right in order to get Him to do everything just right; He loves to control me.
The Confusing God: What does He want? What will make Him happy? Did I do the right thing; am I doing His will? Did I make the right decision?
The Materialistic God: Things are more important than people; what I do for Him is more important than my relationship with Him; I must continually ask myself, what have I done for God today; has my giving been exactly 10% this year?
The Preoccupied God: He is too busy for me; God wouldn’t have time for me; God has other priorities than me; He couldn’t be concerned about the details of my life.
The God of Partiality: He helps others, but not me; other people are special, I’m not; others are chosen but not me, they can expect His intervention; He loves others more than me.
The Performance God: If I get close, He will hurt me; He doesn’t care about my feelings; I don’t matter to Him; I get what I deserve.
The Physically Abusive God: No matter how much I do, it will not be enough; nothing will ever be good enough for God; He will accept me in the future when I can do more; I must strive to be more holy, so He will hear me.
The Untrustworthy God: I can’t trust Him; if things start going well, the trap door will open; just when I was drawing near, the world fell apart; I had better take every precaution to make sure nothing bad happens.
The Verbally Abusive God: When I read Scripture I see all I have done wrong; every sermon I hear speaks to my miserable behavior; draw near to God and He will pick you apart.
The Overpowering God: If I get too close He will make me do what I do not want to do; He forces Himself upon me and will make my life miserable.
The Passive God: The responsibility for abundant life rests wholly on me; I don’t expect God to do anything for me; I must figure it all out on my own.
The Lying God: He promises one thing and gives another; He has returned good with evil; Christian life was to be abundant, so far it is miserable; I try to serve Him, and yet bad continues to happen to me.
(Excerpted from Abiding Life conference notes)
(Stay tuned for more on this subject)