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Who is Your God?

by Hillary McFarland

“I'm okay with Jesus.
It's God I'm not too sure about.”

For many daughters of patriarchy, God is an imposing figure. Why wouldn't He be? His name is the one attached to doctrines of men. He is the why behind many destructive religious lifestyle choices. From the earliest crusades unto today's authoritarian Christian family, some form of God's name, character, or command is mis-used and misapplied with devastating results.
     In the hands of a sinner, God is a dangerous weapon.
My will be done?
     Of course, we are all sinners with the capacity to use God's name in vain to serve ourselves. For the one, however, who grew up literally threatened with God, experiencing Him as a tool of manipulation and control, of behavior modification, force, and cruelty, God is a destructive force who breaks hearts, crushes life from the spirit, and leaves us without hope.
     The adage is true: actions speak louder than words.
     Despite lifelong biblical messages of God's love and salvation and grace, the imprint left on hearts by God-in-the-everyday becomes what is true. It becomes what is lived, believed, and known. It shapes our theology and our faith.
     The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. (John 10:10a)
     God becomes the enemy.

But what about ...
     Yes, God is a holy God. Holiness cannot look upon the unholy; otherwise, it is no longer pure. This requires a set-apartness which drives many well-meaning Christian families to often seek unworldliness through a type of lifestyle or external behavior. To become a peculiar people. What makes someone peculiar? What would you say, or your family say? Is it to be different?
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (Tit. 2:11-14, KJV) 
     Do we redeem ourselves?
     Do we purify ourselves?
     Can we make ourselves holy?
     On the contrary, our Holy God came in flesh and took on our unholiness so that we might take on His life. He redeems us ~ so lived redeemed! He reconciled us ~ so lived reconciled! He sets us apart and makes us holy ~ so be holy! When we seek holiness anywhere other than resting in the finished work of Christ, we are, as Lewis Wells states so fittingly, stitching up the veil.
     Worse, we testify by our lives that Christ died in vain.

So who is your God?
     Chad Holtz, a pastor recently removed from his church due to doctrinal differences, writes:
We become what we worship. A God who demands sacrifice to be appeased is going to form a sacrificing people. A God who is angry and vindictive is going to form angry and vindictive people. A God who divides and conquers is going to form divisive, competitive people.” http://chadholtz.net/2011/03/28/losing-a-job-is-worth-this/ 
     Jesus says: I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10b) Paul reminds us that ...the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (2 Cor. 3:17) King David writes,         
 With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful;
         With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless;
 With the pure You will show Yourself pure;
         And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd.
     Jesus tells us that He has come to set at liberty those who are oppressed, heal the broken-hearted, give sight to the blind, proclaim liberty to the captive ~ you are free! So live free! ~ and to preach the gospel, the good news to those in need of good news.
How beautiful are your feet to the people who hear the news you bring?
     To your children? To your husband? To your wife? To your neighbor? I humbly suggest that:

your good news will reflect your God.

The portrait of God
     If there is destruction, heartache, hopelessness, and despair in your midst, look to the source. The enemy destroys. Jesus came to bring life, liberty, healing, grace and truth. Is His spirit at work in your heart and home?

John 14:7-9a
“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father ... ”
Recommended reading: Equally Loved Leads to Humility by Sisterlisa


  1. Through my teen years, I was afraid to go to sleep at night for fear of God--I thought he might let Satan have me in my sleep, if for no other reason than the same great cosmic joke he played on Job--so I created rituals to keep sleep at bay while appearing to sleep so I didn't get in trouble with my parents. The most common ritual was to sing loudly in my head and mumbled into my pillow, "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so"

    The Bible was what had taught me to fear the Almighty God of Wrath, to Whom Vengeance belonged, so also I believed the Bible when it said Jesus Loved. I only hoped that Jesus' love was actually potent enough to mitigate the righteous inclinations of a God who encouraged genocide, racial purity, and executing children for bad attitudes. But I doubted it.

  2. Very Good, Hillary.
    And so true.

  3. Amen. God was perfectionism and judgment and sovereignty and wrath, who selected only a tiny handful of people out of the world to save and burned up everything else, and who would punish me and cripple all my endeavors and wouldn't hear my prayers if there was any hidden unnoticed unconfessed sin or rebellion whatsoever in my life, or if stepped out of the umbrella of authority. His love was fact he hadn't decided to burn me up along with everything else. And to have any recurring doubts about the reliability of the Bible, and the goodness and existence of such a God was the definition of rebellion and sin. (I grew up on the Bill Gothard and the Puritan flavors of all this, and am a highly introspective perfectionist to boot...it wasn't a good combination).

    It took me years (and exposure to everything from the Mennonites to Eastern Orthodoxy, and several individuals who were rock-solid convinced that God was fundamentally defined by his love, and LIVED like it) before I could be convinced in my own mind that the God I'd grown up with WASN'T the God of the Bible, and to learn how to stop my mind from going there. There's plenty of times I still can't read the Bible or pray or sit through a sermon, because it triggers it all over again.

    "He who has seen me has seen the father" is probably the one verse that pulls me back up, time after time. Realizing that Christ is the fullest revelation of God given to us - that we're to see God and understand his character through the lens of Jesus - that if there's a disjunct we can't get past in our understanding of God, Christ is the picture that needs to win out - that if you want to know what God is like, God is practically shouting in bold underline italics *THIS IS WHO I AM* - and that if you're scared you're creating a God in your own image and how you'd like him to be (instead of how the Bible describes him)...that you are DEFINITELY doing so if you don't take God at his word when it comes to Jesus --- all of that reorients perspective like no other.


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