Mind reading, second-guessing, believing the worst is a tendency most of us appear to be quite skilled at. Negativity and doubt about ourselves, how others see us, and our faults and weaknesses – these loom large in our psyche. In high profile leaders it’s called the ‘imposter syndrome’. What if someone finds out what I’m really like they’ll expose the fraud I often feel I am? If people knew the truth about me they’d never follow me.
I know that’s rather exaggerated but it’s not far from truth. And what makes matters worse is that we live in a climate of hypocrisy, judgement, and cruel vindictiveness fueled by a puritanical sensitivity and political correctness. No living creature can survive the lazer-like public scrutiny that scans and x-rays one’s entire life for evidence of inconsistency, wrong-doing, or any crumb of fallibility. How ridiculous, heart breaking, and how far adrift we are from the grace, mercy, and love of God.
I remember standing in the schoolyard at break and two popular boys were picking sides for a game of tag rugby. Those who wanted to play stood in front of them as they took turns to select their team. Obviously the best sport guys were selected first. But the agony of the moment was being the runt of the group who stood last and joined a team with a resigned, “Guess we’re stuck with you.”
Many feel that’s what happens when they stand before God. An imperfect, fallible runt at the end of the line who probably won’t be picked at all. So why bother?
The good news is that God, who’s character Jesus revealed with such dignity, kindness, and courage, is not like what we’ve become at all.
He says that the weak will be first, the last will get to the front, and the imperfect and broken will be at the head of His table. He never x-rays our lives to show up the flaws. If anything He scans our hearts and history to call up the potential and the hidden giftings. Treasures that have been lost and forgotten amidst the pile of disappointment or discouragement.
A guy turned up at the Antique Road Show in England with a small decorated box enameled in gaudy yellow with some poorly drawn figures on the lid. The inside was somewhat damaged. “I found it in the bottom of a box at a boot sale, bought it for 20p,” he told the appraiser. After a long description the appraiser told him it was made for royalty and was hundreds of years old and valued around 20,000 Pounds Sterling. “Amazing find, only in England can you still find such treasures,” he exclaimed to the owner who was utterly flabbergasted.
Twisted negative thinking has inundated church and Christian teaching. Take for example the theology of predestination. A wide spectrum of Christian thinking believes that only some are chosen by God with the rest destined for hell and burning fires. It’s predestination swinging from the words of Paul about those whom God has chosen.
‘For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.’ (Romans 8:29)
It’s an interpretation reflecting the fractured thinking of men rather than the heart of God. No wonder so many want nothing to do with those who profess belief in God.
What if predestination is actually a declaration that the living God chooses all, loves all, and had predestined every human being to know Him and embrace His invitation and revelation of love? The fact that some will not rests on choices and responses which in themselves holds much mystery.
How we think is important. It makes the world of difference to begin with a declaration that you are chosen by God. You’re His first choice, not the runt of a litter. What if we began with that affirmation as we approached God? No doubt about His love, His goodness, His delight in us. Here’s an earlier verse in Paul’s letter to the Romans….
‘But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ (Romans 5:8)
The key is understanding that God took the initiative, not only in creation, but also in redeeming. He searches for you and me because He regards us as much-loved children, not junk. He is neither disillusioned nor alarmed by our failures and ‘secret sins’. He knows all about them and merely acknowledges them as symptoms of how we’re hurting and trying to compensate for what we don’t realize He has to give us.
So if you’re feeling discouraged, disqualified, wounded by the judgements and accusations of others, take heart. Expose the lies and turn again to hear the words of the Father affirming His love. There’s hope for you today and in the future, precisely because He is jealous for you and fiercely passionate to see you found, healed, and restored. You are made for royalty. He wants to lift you up and have a party in your honor. Not just when you first come home, but many times along the way.
Smile, God loves you!
Need someone to talk to, listen, be encouraged to navigate your present and your future? Go to Little Mountain Counselling to find out more. Not a hopeless end, but endless hope.