Modern Myths ... about God

Last Sunday, we began a series of messages that we're calling “Modern Myths” We want to think about some of the myths that the world has taught us ‑‑ misconceptions about ourselves, about life, and specifically this morning, some misunderstandings that we sometimes have about God. This is a fundamental issue, because what we think about God will ultimately affect what we think about everything else in life. What is God really like? That is a question that has preoccupied mankind for thousands of years. And many people in our world today still have a very distorted, incomplete image of God in their minds. Sometimes people will say, “Well, I don’t believe in God.” The question to ask them is, “Please describe the kind of God you don’t believe in” Because often the God they have rejected doesn't really exist anyway

I think there are a number of myths, or misconceptions about God that are very common today, & I want to try to address two of them this morning, and then another one next Sunday

Myth #1: “God Is Unreasonable.” Now this is a myth that even many Christians fall into, and it goes kind of like this: “God places so many restrictions and demands on my life. He’s way too strict. He’s too narrow. He’s unreasonable. All He wants me to be is a good, but boring person. He doesn’t want me to have fun. He’s a kill-joy.” Many people think of God as kind of like some stern, unsmiling grandfather who sits up in heaven with this scowl on his face looking down on us, waiting for somebody to have a moment of fun so He can say, “Stop it!” or waiting to say “No” to us all of the time.

Now this is not a new myth. In fact, the first recorded words of the devil in the Bible reflect this myth. In our scripture reading from Genesis, this was the first myth about God that Satan tried to get Adam and Eve to believe. God had placed them in this beautiful paradise, with everything they could possibly need. And God said, "Look, this is all for you. You can eat anything, you can do anything you want; however, there is just one thing I don’t want you to do. There is one tree out of all the thousands of trees in this garden that I don’t want you to eat from.” Was that unreasonable? No, it wasn't. But you see, our human nature always seems to want what we can't have, not what we can, right? It’s like the sign says, “Don’t touch this wet paint” ‑‑ you’ve got to touch it. It’s just human nature. You put a little kid in a room with a whole bunch of toys and say, “Here, play with all these toys, but don’t run your fingers through the fire on this candle.” What are they going to do? Go over to the candle and start running their fingers through it, and probably get burned. And so the serpent comes along here in Gen 3, and he says to Eve, “Did God really say that you must not eat the fruit from ANY tree in the garden?” Do you catch the shift here? Do you see what he’s doing? He’s twisting what God said; he’s reversed it. God had said, “There’s just one thing you can’t eat,” and Satan says, “God doesn't want you to eat any of this wonderful fruit.” He’s trying to make God seem unreasonable. “Here God has put you in this paradise, created this desire, and now He won’t let you have any of it”

Now, this is an old myth that a lot of people fall for today. How many of you are parents? Let’s say you’ve got a teenager and you say, “Now, I want you to have a good time, but I want you to be back home by 11:00 p.m.” And, inevitably, your child will say, “You never let me have any fun.” Have you heard that line? Have you said that they can’t have any fun? No. Have you put the whole world off limits? No. You’ve just said, “I don’t want you doing this one thing.” And they say, “That's not fair. Its unreasonable for there to be any limitations on me. You’re being too strict.” But you’re actually doing it because you love them and you want to protec them. And we sometimes look at God exactly the same way, don't we? God has given us so many wonderful gifts, but when He puts any restrictions on those gifts, we say, “He’s being unreasonable, He’s not being fair. Why is he placing all these limitations on us?”

Now, the truth is, God is not unreasonable, rather the Bible tells us He us like a Compassionate Father. Psalm 103:13 “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him” Everything he does is motivated by love. Even when He says “No” to certain things, He does it because He loves you. Everything God does for you, He does out of compassion. because He loves you. Everything you have in life is a gift from God and He says, “I want you to enjoy these gifts, but I don’t want you to abuse them. I don’t want you to misuse them because you’ll get hurt.” For eg, is water a gift from God? Yes, it is. You can’t live without water. In fact, your body is 98% water. If you didn’t have water, you’d shrivel up. Now, water is a gift of God, but can water be misused? Sure it can: you can drown in it if you misuse it. How about fire? Is fire a gift of God? Fire warms us, fire illuminates, but fire out of control will kill you. Is food a gift from God? Yes. Absolutely. Can food be misused? Absolutely. Is sex a gift of God? Yes. Can it be abused? Absolutely. But you see what happens is, people complain, “God is unreasonable. He gives us sexual drives and desires and then He puts limitations on it. There shouldn’t be any limitations, I should be able to express my sexuality any way I want to.” Don’t you think God knows a little bit better than you? Can you imagine if everybody in the world used sex the way God had intended it? There would be no VD, there would be no AIDS, there would be no rapes, there would be no sexual abuse, there would be no guilt or shame over it. Don’t you think it would have been a whole lot better if people had followed God’s prescription? You see, God knows what He’s doing. God says, for instance, in this area, “I want you to enjoy this gift I've given to you” but He says, “I insist that you reserve it only for the person you’re married to, because sex without commitment is destructive.” He says, “I insist on that for your own protection.”

But, when people say, “God is being unreasonable,” in reality He’s being compassionate. Any time God says "No" to me, it is because He loves me. It’s because He wants what’s best for me. Not because He’s a sourpuss, or a kill-joy, but because He really does care about you. You see, Satan’s goal is to convince you that obeying God and enjoying life are mutually exclusive; that they’re opposites. And then he adds, “God doesn’t love you. He wants you to be miserable. He wants to take away all of your joy.” Now, if you think that God doesn’t want you to be happy, you have been deceived by the devil. Look at these verses, Ps 37:4: “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Does that sound like He’s being unreasonable? No. Does it sound like He’s a kill-joy? No. 1 Tim 6:17: “ . . God richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” Does that sound like a kill-joy? No. He created the world for you to enjoy. Rom 8:32 - He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Does that sound like somebody who wants to make your life miserable?

Myth #2: “God Is Unreliable.” Now, this one says that God cannot be trusted, that He’ll lie to you, that He’s inconsistent. And, again, this is as old as the Garden of Eden. Notice Genesis 3:3‑5: "You will not surely die," the serpent says to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." Now, you can understand from this that there are two phases in temptation ‑‑ any time you’re tempted it’s going to happen in two phases. Phase One is Doubt; Phase Two is Deception. The way the devil tempts you in any area of life is this: First, he tries to get you to doubt what God has said. He’ll do this, “Did God really say this is wrong?” Or, he’ll say, “Did He really mean it when He said it,” or “Maybe He meant it then, but maybe he doesn’t mean it now.” And so, he tries to get you to doubt the truth of God’s word. And then he will offer his own lie, which says, “It can’t hurt anybody . . . nobody will ever know . . . everybody does it . . . just this once,” etc., etc., etc. And, he offers his lie ‑‑ doubt, then deception ‑‑ and the result is destruction, as you reap what you sew.

The truth is that God is reliable; God is a consistent father. He’s not only compassionate, but He’s consistent. He can be counted on to always act the same way towards you. James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Now, some of you may have had the experience of growing up with an unreliable, unpredictable father. One person put it this way: “I never knew if my dad was going to hug me or slug me. I didn’t know if he was going to be silent or violent. Whether he was going to accept me or reject me.” And, some of you may have grown up with parents who were very inconsistent in their attitude towards you. And that produces insecure kids. And the problem is that some of you have taken that image of your earthly dad and you’ve put it over on to your eternal, heavenly Father, and you think that’s the way God's going to treat you. You think one day God’s happy with you; the next day, He’s angry. One day He likes you and the next day He’s displeased with you. But listen, God’s not temperamental. He doesn’t wake up grumpy some mornings. He’s always consistent. He’s absolutely reliable.

I read a study once that said the number one reason kids rebel against their parents is because of resentment, and the number one cause of resentment is broken promises. “Dad, you promised you’d do this.” “Mom, you promised you’d do that” and a broken promise leads to resentment, and resentment leads to rebellion. God isn’t that kind of a father who says he’ll do something and then doesn’t do it. You can count on him. In fact, one thing you can always count on is, God’s love for you is never going to change. You can always count on it.

Ps. 59:17: “You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.”. When everything else is changing, you can count on this: God will never stop loving you. God will never, never, never stop loving you. It doesn’t matter what you do, where you are, God will never stop loving you. Why? Because He’s compassionate, but more than that, He is consistently compassionate. He doesn’t waiver. He doesn’t love you one day and then hate you the next day. As we close this morning, I want us to bow our heads, & be quiet before the Lord. for moment. Ask yourself: When I think of God, what picture do I have? Do I picture a God who's unreasonable, who's unreliable, or do I think of God as a Father, a father who is compassionate, who's always there when I need him. Ask God to show his heart to you this morning.

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