“Aim at the Blesser and you will get the blessings ‘thrown in’: Aim at the blessings and you will get neither.”
— Paraphrase of a famous C.S. Lewis quote
When they were in college, my kids would often call me from afar with the predictably manipulative salutation, “Hi, Dad! How are you?” I would immediately sit up straight and brace for the punchline.
They were NOT inquiring about the state of my health, they were far more interested in the state of my wallet. Oh sure, they cared about me, but what they really needed, what prompted the call, was something they wanted.
Loving them as I did, I took the whole thing in stride, mildly amused that they thought they were fooling me about their true intentions.
For most of my life, I have treated God that way. I prayed to him to GET things — a remedy for a problem — getting me out of a jam, healing an injury, finding me a job, delivering me from alcohol, etc.
I was treating God like a cosmic Santa Claus. It was NOT a relationship with Him per se that interested me, but what he could do for me, because “I’ve been a good boy all year.”
What Have You Done for Me Lately?
Any relationship based upon reciprocal performance is bound to deteriorate over time. Sooner or later, someone gets disappointed and there goes the relationship.
Consider the divorce rate in America. Mutual commitment and loyalty seldom enter the equation.
It is the same between humans and God — if some kind of “deal” is at the heart of our relationship with God, heartbreak will surely follow. That’s why the so-called “prosperity gospel” has made a shipwreck of many people’s faith, promising physical healing and material wealth.
When the promised “blessings” fail to materialize, so does faith in God. Tragic.
Me-Centered or God-Centered?
A widespread misconception turns God into a kind of “charm bracelet” to be rubbed when a need arises and expecting God to come running. While scripture supports the notion that God cares about us and wants to bless our lives, He doesn’t want to stop there. His goal is to draw us into a committed, trusting family relationship that lasts for eternity.
God has big plans for the universe and is inviting us to participate in his exciting adventure. That is why He wants to wean us away from continually dragging Him down into our little lives and instead, draw us up into His infinitely more expansive life in the heavens.
The former view keeps us at the center and the latter view places God at the center, where He belongs.
Case in point: Following their miraculous release by the hand of God from 400 years of slavery in Egypt, the Israelites could see no further than filling their bellies. Here, God was planting a revolutionary righteous nation as a beacon of hope in a field of godless idolatrous nations.
And what were His people focused on? According to Numbers 11:4-6, “The rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and the sons of Israel wept again and said, ‘Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.’”
They were like spoiled kids the day after Christmas bored with their toys. Talk about missing the point.
We were never created to be “the point,” God is. He wants our hearts, and that requires loving Him and wanting to be with Him forever.
Philosopher Dallas Willard challenged us with this:
“One should seriously inquire if to live in a world permeated with God and the knowledge of God is what they themselves truly desire.”
How About You?
“… He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness …”
— D.C. Collier is a Bible teacher, discipleship mentor and writer focused on Christian apologetics. A mechanical engineer and Internet entrepreneur, he is the author of My Origin, My Destiny, a book focused on Christianity’s basic “value proposition.” Click here for more information, or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.