12–18 May 2019.
When people think about God, too often they imagine him like some kind of almighty policeman up in the sky. They think that God – like the secret police – is always secretly watching what we do, listening to what we say, and even eavesdropping on the most secret thoughts in our heart, all just to trap us in a crime and severely punish us for any tiny sin we commit. But this is a terrible way to think of God.
To think of God this way – like the secret police, like an all-seeing eye in the sky that is out to get us – is to end up living in constant terror and fear of God. In the Old Testament, Job rages against this idea and expresses its horrible oppressiveness when he writes in Job 7:17–19, “What are human beings that you, God, make so much of them, that you give them so much attention, that you examine them every morning and test them every moment? Will you never look away from me, or leave me alone even for an instant?” What Job is fighting against here is not really our true and loving God, but rather this horrible idea of God as the vengeful secret policeman in the sky.
Sadly, too many Christians and non-Christians still think of God in this frightening and harmful way. By doing this they forget that we exist in a relationship of love with God, not in a relationship of fear. God is our loving parent, not an oppressive secret spy hiding in the clouds and always out to destroy us.
The words of 2 Chronicles 16:9 remind us of the truth when they say, “The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” These words remind us that God is not the secret police searching for our sin and out to punish us. Instead God’s eyes are searching through this world looking for those of us in need. In his love God is determined to search for us when we are suffering, to find us when we are weak, to strengthen our hearts when we are hurting, and to save us from our times of despair. Police spy on us to hurt us, but God’s eyes are full of love and are constantly on the look out for those of us who need his help.
It’s for this reason that Jesus also describes himself as the Good Shepherd, because he searches the whole world for his sheep, searching for us when we are lost and in trouble. The Good Shepherd is determined to help us and save us when we are in need. And the good news is that no suffering, however dark, will ever hide our need from his caring eyes.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis