A+B=C The Vending Machine God
I think Jesus really enjoyed confounding people’s belief systems (and still does!). Just take look at the sermon on the mount. Blessed are the poor in spirit? Love and pray for your enemies? If you call someone stupid, it’s the same as murder? I’m sure His listeners were left scratching their heads. Pretty radical teaching. In John 9, His disciples ask Jesus “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” He replies neither sinned and then miraculously heals him. But the assumptions the disciples make in this story are interesting, aren’t they?
- Suffering is proportional to sinfulness.
- Tragedy is a sure sign of God’s judgment.
- Bad things happen only to bad people.
- We have the right to make such judgments.
To each of these assumptions, Jesus says, no. (www.gotquestions.org)
So, this becomes the equation with God—(A) I did something bad, (B) God is mad= (C) Judgement and punishment. We tend to default to this false belief. But we also tend to believe the opposite:
- Good things are proportional to how amazing and wonderful I am
- Reward is a sure sign of God’s approval
- Good things only happen to good people
- We have the right to make such judgements
Once again, the equation follows: (A)-I follow all the rules, (B)-God approves= (C) God better hold up His end of the deal and give me what I want when I want it. To this false belief, I say—“Sorry, God is not a vending machine who can be controlled”. But it’s exactly what we try to do. We sure have a lot false beliefs running through our minds.
A Barrage of False Beliefs
I’ve had a ton of false beliefs over the years about men, women, God and myself. God has slowly been challenging and healing these beliefs—some I still believe while most I don’t anymore. Here’s a sample of false beliefs I’ve personally struggled with in my own life:
My entire identity is based on my sexuality-Emotionally I am more like a woman-Only weak people cry-Men are arrogant and unemotional-God only wants to ruin my fun-My parents don’t love me-God won’t take care of me, He’ll abandon me-I need an intense romantic/sexual relationship with a man to make me happy & whole-Anger expressed is bad and shameful-I’m stupid, I’m ugly, I’m a mistake, I’m a failure-Sex is love, sex is intimacy-Men only want to use me for sex and then they’ll leave-I’m defined solely by what I do and how I perform-I’m in control of my life-I’m a boy and not a man-God wants to take the very thing I desire most and withhold it-The worst thing is to be rejected-I have to give all myself away so people won’t leave-I’m worthless and don’t deserve anything-I’m the center of the universe and deserve everything- I’m all alone-God will get tired of all my BS and the other shoe will eventually drop-No one will help or care for me, so I need to do everything myself-I’m not allowed to say no-If it’s not perfect, it’s a failure.
A Few Observations: False Beliefs Can be Connected to:
Wow, not the greatest list of beliefs huh? I’m so grateful God has done some deep healing work around a lot of these—but where did they come from and in what things are false beliefs rooted?
People mirroring who you are
Think of all the people who have access to you throughout your life—parents, siblings, extended family, teachers, neighbors, friends, coaches, church people etc. All of them are like mirrors reflecting back who you are—is that message of value, worth and dignity? Or is it a message of failure and unworthiness? These reflections shape how we see ourselves.
The blaring belief around shame is one of “not enough”—I’m not enough as a person, I’m not enough as a man or woman, I’m not enough as a parent, I’m not enough as a Christian, I’m not enough in my career or job. These beliefs can be haunting even when we’re achieving some success.
We’ve all experienced some form of abuse. That abuse might come in packages which are verbal, emotional, physical, spiritual and sadly, even sexual. Our wounds can also be on a continuum from minimal, moderate all the way to more severe types of abuse.
Our Choices in Response (based on reality or perception)
The wounds I described above are not be taken for granted, but our choices in response to pain carry greater weight and consequences—what direction are they sending me? To places of healing or places of destruction? And am I perceiving things correctly or making false assumptions?
We can lose a lot based on our false beliefs—a lack of confidence to try new things, poor self care, loss of relationship, unforgiveness and personal growth.
This is a lot to tackle and apparently the Holy Spirit’s gentle voice has had some tough competition with these damaging messages throughout the years. All these lies are and have been in the process of being healed by God but it can be a slow process because they have lived inside of me for so long. They are ingrained in my heart, mind and attitudes. So what can help in the healing process? We’ll explore that in my next blog.
Although he holds a degree in graphic arts, he attributes his ministry qualifications to the “school of hard knocks.” God’s abundant grace continues to be the instrument of growth in his life, and he desires to be firmly grounded in the forgiveness and freedom of relationship with Jesus Christ.
Scott attends a Presbyterian Church.
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