A True View of God
Imagine this great tragedy: A woman walks with God for 40 years, fully saved, redeemed and following Christ. She comes before the throne at the resurrection, and for the first time, she realizes what she’s missed. She feels wave upon wave of pleasure flowing from the Son of God and says to herself, “I could have drunk from this well of spiritual delight every day on Earth. I just had to encounter Your heart and Your beauty. Life would have been so much better! Everything would have changed, and I would have accomplished so much more.” Many Christians are like the woman I’ve described: they spend their days on Earth believing that Jesus is harsh instead of tender, mad instead of glad and distant instead of affectionate. When they finally see Him as He truly is, they will be filled with regret at not having spent their time on Earth radically pursuing His heart and reaping the amazing pleasures. Beloved, we don’t have to wait to experience these deep pleasures! God has ordained for the human heart to experience them even in this life. I’ll go further and state that it’s not optional for us to go on as generations have, without a transforming revelation of God’s heart. In light of the mounting pressures at the end of the age, we can’t afford NOT to drink of the pleasures of His heart. Our lives must overflow with constant delighted cries of, “O God, this is too good to be true; it’s too magnificent to really be happening! But it IS true -- beyond what I could hope for!” We want these testimonies of worship and adoration to flow from our spirits now and not just in eternity. We desperately need hearts anchored and sustained by an outrageous love that comes from another world. The present crisis in the body of Christ, in which many people never experience the love of God, stems from a false view of God. Instead of a God who is full of tenderness, gladness and desire, believers imagine a God who is filled with animosity toward them. This affects every single aspect of how they approach Him. Think of it in practical terms. When you are forced to meet with someone who openly dislikes you, considers you a hypocrite, or is full of blame toward you, your spirit is guarded and closed. You can’t relax. You count the minutes and look forward to leaving the person’s presence. This is how many of God’s people live and worship. They lift hands and voices with guarded spirits and closed hearts. They try to live a devoted life of holiness while seeing God as harsh and menacing. They are unable to worship Him with open spirits because inside they feel rejected by Him as a hopeless hypocrite. They may use different words to describe this reality, but the pain is the same. Perhaps you have felt it. You may sing, dance, speak in tongues, and pray for others, but you do it with your heart gate latched shut and a sign that reads, “Do not disturb” hung on your spirit. You come before God as you would come before someone who despises you. This common view of God produces churches full of believers who feel condemned. They see themselves as prisoners on spiritual probation, and they try so hard to get their acts together. Even when they worship they silently negotiate with God, “Give me one more chance, and I promise I will never ask for anything else again. Forgive me one more time, and I will never again sin the way I did before.” They continuously try to create a loving motivation in God’s heart. Beloved, you and I cannot produce an argument good enough to change God’s emotions toward us! His emotions are set and will not be altered. It’s foolish to think we can cause Him to love us, but that’s how many live – on the “wrong” side of God’s emotions. There is a cure for this problem, but first we must get real about the state of the body of Christ. Across the world today, many of God’s people live in spiritual compromise. This is no secret to anyone who looks with honesty at the condition of the church. The crisis of backsliding stems from the false view of God’s heart. But into the darkness, the Lord sends His words through the prophet Jeremiah: “’Return, O backsliding children,’ says the Lord; ‘for I am married to you….I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding’” (Jer. 3:14-15, NKJV). What is God going to do to correct the backsliding? Beat everyone up? No, Jeremiah prophesied that in the end times, God would cause His people to return wholeheartedly by revealing our relationship to Him as a cherished bride. This heart-stopping truth will be enough to prod the church out of lethargy. The Lord will cry out through His prophets, saying, “Return…for I am married to you.” This is the Lord’s highest way of empowering people to walk in wholehearted holiness with Jesus: He introduces us to our marriage relationship with the Godhead. He invites us to fill our spirits with the understanding of Him as our Husband, the One who is merciful, glad-hearted, affectionate and beautiful. He beckons us to go on a journey that we might experience the power of this reality in our own being. And then, as a result of our personal encounter with Him, we will stop our backsliding, proclaim what He is like to others and lead them into their own experience with this fascinating, intimacy-loving Bridegroom God.
Adapted from “After God’s Own Heart” by Mike Bickle, copyright 2004. Published by Charisma House.