19 Jun 2012

How good is God?

Sunday was Father's Day. The day when we gave thanks for our fathers. The men who bring us up and show us what's what, how to shave and how to look after money. All important things, but crucially not everything. Father's do other things. They let us know they love us. They make us feel safe. They take time to listen to us when we have a problem. They let us be free to mess up and still be there when we return knowing what we did. They try to stop us messing up and are still there when we return knowing what we did. They know what we need even when we don’t.

They are there.

Unfortunately though for many of us they aren’t. Perhaps they have left your family, maybe they have died, maybe they just don’t care.

If you are in this situation it may be pretty easy to understand why so many people find it difficult to relate to God as Father.

And when we find it difficult to relate to God as Father we then view God as being a distant parent.
A parent who doesn’t care, who is angry with us, who is unapproachable, who’s easily annoyed, who is happy with us only when we do well. Or at least don’t mess up.

That’s the kind of God many of us can relate to. Because that’s the view of God we have grown up with. The reasons for this are many. But the reality is when we view God like that we aren’t experiencing the God that the Bible tells us about. Part of the problem is that we don’t always associate Jesus with God. God is the elderly, slightly grumpy uncle where as Jesus is slightly hippy and loves everyone. So ultimately we have to do decide.

Is God good or not?

Is He all loving or does He lose his patience with us?

Is He forgiving or is He constantly judging us?

Because how we answer those questions will determine how we live. Are we hiding because we think God is out to catch us? Are we afraid because we think God has a list which he is checking twice, like some sort of cosmic Santa?

Or do we live in freedom and in complete love with God because we know that nothing can separate us from Him?

Are you able to approach Him because you know that He yearns for you constantly, every moment of every day. Awake and asleep.

The cynical amongst us reply ‘that’s great but if we live like that we’ll go crazy and do whatever we feel like doing’

The hopeful reply ‘then you don’t understand how much God loves you, you don’t see how far He is willing
to go for you and you don’t understand love’.

The irony is that real change arises out of knowing there is nothing you can do to be loved. Not out of fear or trepidation. It’s a gift that never runs out. It’s a gift that was given by God for us to enjoy not to use as a tool in theological debates or as a way of proving that we are right, but to be free to love one another.

So maybe we can solve the dilemma of whether we see God as a good father when we view the love He showed us while we were still sinners. Jesus spent so much time being with people, showing them how to care for each other, showing them that they were important to Him and caring about their lives, especially when they had made a mess up of them. The people that Jesus loved being with the most were the screw ups. The Zacchaeus's, the  prostitutes, the liars, the sick, the stuck up and the weak.

The us.

The love Jesus had, came from His father. The father that He felt he could approach even when He was dying on a cross. The love we often associate with Jesus and sometimes disavow from God is the same.
If we have been brought up in a family or environment where a father is absent we often blame ourselves. We don’t always know it but we do. And when we blame ourselves we feel shame and hide from our fathers. Only we don’t have one so we do the next best thing and hide from God.

But God doesn’t work like that. He doesn’t blame us and He doesn’t want us to hide. So perhaps our hiding from God is less to do with Him and more how we view Him.

Which is why we need to view Him like he really is.


There is no good cop, bad cop. There is only good cop, good cop.

Ultimately God is either good or He isn’t.

Ultimately He is foreign to us or He is close to us.

Ultimately He loves us unconditionally or He doesn’t.

And when we realize that He does, that’s not just the greatest Father’s Day gift.

It’s the greatest gift ever.


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