I like to think that I have an open mind. I try not to have preconceived notions about things before I experience them for myself.
For example, I will try new foods to see how they taste before I decide if I like them or not. I don’t make decisions based on their name or the way they look or because someone else tells me they don’t like them. It used to make me crazy when my kids would just look at a food and say they didn’t like it. Most of the food they used to say that about they now love – all because they took some time and a little risk and they tried them.
I was flipping through the channels on my television the other day and I came across a preacher I had never heard of before. So, I decided to listen to him and see what his message was. He was a little bit too much full of fire and brimstone for me but, as I said, I like to listen before I make any judgments.
He basically told me I was a sinner. He told me what God liked and didn’t like about me. He told me how I was supposed to act so I would please God. In addition, He supported all of this with scripture.
I was blown away – and not for the good.
I sat there wondering who gave this person the authority and the knowledge to judge me and everyone else listening to him. Who made him the spokesman for God about us?
It saddened me to think that there were people listening to the message being given who might be starting to feel bad about themselves and their inability to live up to how God wants them to be.
In terms of relating a message, I couldn’t be further apart from this person. The message I like to share is a message of hope and encouragement. That God loves each and every one of us even though we are not perfect.
I like to motivate people to try to find a closer relationship with God not turn God into a God we should fear.
When I was growing up we, as children, were told we must fear the Lord. I could never understand why we needed to be afraid of God. If we were afraid of someone, how would we ever really feel comfortable becoming close to that person.
If you look at a dictionary, there are two definitions of fear: the first is “to be afraid or frightened of” and the second is “to be in awe or reverence of”. If you were to read the Bible passages that use the word “fear” and alternately substitute the words “afraid of” and “in awe of” I would think that being in awe and revering the Lord would, most times, be the better choice of words to use.
Through a lot of prayer and reflection on God’s word and my life, I have come to my own personal belief that I am in awe of and revere God rather than being afraid of God.
The person on my television also wanted me to be afraid of God.
Nevertheless, still I listened. After listening, I decided that I didn’t like his message or the way he delivered it. Moreover, its not that it just didn’t fit into what I believed, it was that I also didn’t understand how he could speak with so much authority on how God sees you and me.
God gave His word directly to YOU and ME. We can pick up a Bible and read it ourselves.
Ministers can help guide us and teach us but I don’t believe any person today should stand between you and your relationship with God.
I can tell you what I think God’s word says to me. I can tell you how I apply God’s word to my life. But I am not in a position to tell you how God views you or your actions. That is something very personal between you and God.
God has given us through the Bible, guidelines and examples of how He would like us to live. But God knows that we will all, at times, fall short of the mark He has set for us and that is why He gives us His forgiveness. He knows we will stray but He is always there waiting with open arms for us to come back. His love for us is unconditional. And that is what I am in awe of.
In the end, no matter what others may say, it is up to us to develop our own relationship with God and see God through our own eyes.