The God I Wish You Knew (Part 3): Does God Work In Mysterious Ways?
This is the third part of a series I’m in entitled “The God I Wish You Knew”. If you’d like a refresher on what it’s all about, I made a post previously introducing the series here. I originally intended it to be a 5 part series, but I will be finishing the last 3 topics in this post which are about the perceptions that God is angry, a task master and works in mysterious ways.
As a reminder, Greg Henry will be guest posting next week while I’m away on my mission trip. I will have a mission trip recap blog for you when I come back and will be moving on to other topics after that. If you could keep my Charis Bible College team and I in prayer next week it would be much appreciated.
Is God Angry?
I’ll start with the conception that God is angry first. You’ve probably heard people say God is not mad at you, He’s mad about you. But most people don’t believe that. They have been told that God is judging people with cancer, hurricanes, etc. They’ve been pounded by religion that tries to manipulate them and tells them they aren’t doing enough.
Others just don’t want to believe it. They are afraid that if they let God love them that they will turn into some crazy person and/or that He will send them to Africa or something. Also, they are afraid of what people will think of them. One of my biggest fears in becoming a Christian is that I would become like Ned Flanders from the Simpson’s and start saying stuff like Okily Dokily. If you’re not familiar, here’s a short clip:
So if you just don’t want to believe it, then there’s not much anybody can do for you except pray. For those who are open but need some more convincing, I’ve provided some scriptures below. The other topics in this post will help as well:
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
1 John 4:7-8 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Is God Like A Task Master?
One of the main reasons people think God is angry with them is because of this idea that religion paints about God being a task master. We live in such a performance based society, that is makes sense for us to think that God judges us this way. It’s our default setting to believe that we aren’t measuring up, so we either try to start performing better to earn our right standing with God or we just give up completely. As I mentioned in my previous post, the law was actually intended to bring us to the end of ourselves, but what most people end up doing is giving up on God.
The key to overcoming this perception is understanding the difference between a son and a servant mentality. God calls us his children (1 John 3:1 & 2 Cor. 6:18), however most still think our works are what earn us a place in God’s family. If we can somehow do more good than bad, then maybe just maybe God will have mercy on us and let us into heaven. Hopefully we’ll catch Him on a good day. Imagine if you’re parents treated you that way. Imagine if your kids tried to earn their way into your family. They don’t have to try to be your son or daughter. That is who they are. As Greg Henry says, “you are as you ought to be.”
Servants are always trying to earn rewards. Sons inherit. You can’t reward somebody with something that they inherit. So this gets down to your purpose and why you are here. We were actually created first and foremost to fellowship with God. That is our general purpose. As we get closer to God He will talk to us about specific things and put a desire in our hearts to do things. The fruit is a result of the root relationship with God. As long as you are placing the priority on your relationship with God, you can live life from the desire in your heart, not out of obligation. Religion tries to motivate people to do good things from fear of God rather than trusting in God to work in their lives and giving people up to be compelled by the love of God.
So God is not trying to get you to shape up and do more work for Him. He accepts you the way you are. The more appropriate analogy would be that God is like an ice sculptor trying to chip away at the lies the world has told you about who you are so He can reveal to you who you really are and you can see yourself the way He sees you. He does not define you by what you do, what you have and what is happening to you.God is like an ice sculptor chipping away at the lies to reveal what's inside you. Click To Tweet
Does God Work In Mysterious Ways?
We’ve probably all heard people say God works in mysterious ways. I think people mean well when they say it…trying to encourage others who may be going through tough times and what not. There is a scripture in the Old Testament that actually says this (God works in mysterious ways, Is. 45:15 NLT), but I believe it’s a bad translation and not what the original Hebrew really says. Either way, I think it’s important how you define mysterious.
The definition of mysterious is difficult or impossible to understand. If you go by this definition, then I would have to disagree that God works in “mysterious ways”. What I think people mean when they say it though is that God works in different ways than us. That I believe is true. There are many principles in the Bible that are completely contrary to what makes sense to us i.e. die to live, give to get, last is first, etc. There is a big difference between something being different and something being impossible to understand. A good example of this may be when I go on my mission trip to Costa Rica. Since I’ve never been there, many of their ways will be different to me. However, as I spend time with them and get to know them, their ways can be known to me and I can grow accustomed to them. It’s not like their ways are just mystical and not able to be known at all. The ways of the Costa Ricans can be known, it’s just a matter of making an effort to know them. The same goes for God. His ways can be known, you just have to make an effort to know Him.
A confused mind always says no and someone who is not consistent is hard to trust. I believe the enemy is at work here trying to confuse people about the character of God and the way he operates. If he can get people to believe that God’s ways are finicky, people will doubt if He is trustworthy. If he can keep people from trusting God then he can get them to fall into his trap of self-reliance and all the other side effects that come with it (stress, anger, pride, declining health, poverty, poor relationships, etc.). See how big of a deal this little lie can be?The devil will try to convince you God is finicky. Not true. He's always the same. #GodNeedsNewPR Click To Tweet
The truth that will set you free is knowing that God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He is consistent and He is trustworthy. Time and time again the Bible shows His love for us and how He works. The Bible is a like a love letter from God to us, but most people read it like a work order, just looking for things to do. You are bound to be led astray if you do that. That’s like telling God you aren’t interested in a relationship with Him…you just want to be told what to do. The flesh loves a good checklist though doesn’t it? We love to be given a formula that we can then go work in our ability. Our carnal selves will always look for ways to fulfill the desires of our hearts without having to trust God. Your subconscious mind will use the lie that “God works in mysterious ways” as an excuse to continue in your self-reliance because God can’t be trusted anyways. That’s a lie. Now you know.
Going forward what you want to focus on is just knowing God. Paul said in Philippians chapter 3 that he counted everything a loss for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ. The way to be able to recognize a fake is to become so familiar with the real, that the fake becomes instantly recognizable. Just like spotting a fake dollar bill is pretty easy for most of us. We’ve become so accustomed to the real thing from so many years of dealing with it, that we know right away if the money is fake. We may not be able to pinpoint the reason why, but we know something is not right about it. Get to know God by spending time with Him, reading His word and listening to good teaching. I have a whole list of teachers I recommend on my resources page here. When you do that, what you will find is that you will become persuaded by someone you will come to know as your friend and His ways will no longer be mysterious to you.
Hope this series helps to change the way you see God for the better. We discussed how God is not too distant or busy for you, how God is not out of touch with our society and how God is not angry, a task master or working in mystical unknown ways. I plan to develop this series into a free mini-course in the future that you can use as a resource to give to others who you feel may benefit from it. Let me know if you have any questions. Thanks for stopping by. God bless.