Is God mad at me?
I confess that I’ve asked myself this question more times than I care to admit. It doesn’t only come when I think of reading the Word but also when I consider other things expected of a Christian, like prayer and evangelism.
I start the year excited with my reading plan, but as the days go by, work, responsibilities at home, or discouragement get in the way of my goal. Then one day something goes wrong: the car breaks down, I have a problem with a friend or I can’t solve something at work. My first reaction is to think this is God’s way of saying He is upset with me.
Ironically, what leads me to think this way is the lack of Bible reading. If I meditate on the great hope of the gospel, my perspective changes: my life does not depend on what I can do to keep God happy, but on what Jesus did on the cross to satisfy God. Our Father is not a Father who is waiting to punish us for the slightest mistake, but a Father who graciously teaches us and lifts us up through His Word.
Of course, any circumstance that keeps you from meditating on the Scriptures is worth fighting. But the reason is not that if we don’t read, God gets mad at us. Rather, if we don’t read we are missing out on three great treasures that are available to us from Genesis to Revelation.
First treasure: Knowing God.
One of the biggest risks when we approach the Bible is to think it is about us, our needs, our questions, or our personal conflicts. Although it’s true that in the Scripture we can find answers on these matters, we must be aware that the Bible has a main, glorious, and eternal objective: to make God known.
Through every book, page, and word of Scripture, God gives us testimony of Himself; the Lord gives us a window into His nature and His character through the Bible. If our heart’s desire is to attain eternal life where we will be with God forever, then we must approach His Word with the desire to know Him. Jesus put it this way in Gethsemane: “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).
Second treasure: Knowing ourselves.
When we read the Scripture, we realize that the problem of being human has always been the same: living on our own terms.
The Bible is full of warnings against trusting our motivations. Our biggest problems come from believing that we can be happy being ourselves, when the gift of the Word is that we can see who we are in God’s eyes.
Many today claim that the Bible is outdated or irrelevant. This is not true. Being inspired by God, the Scripture is alive (2 Timothy 3:16–17). When we read it, our sin is exposed (Hebrews 4:12). As we search the Scriptures by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will see our deepest darkness and find glorious hope in the Savior.
Third treasure: Knowing how to live.
Some suggest that the Bible cannot be a foundation for our lives because it does not deal with the current problems of humanity. However, when we read the Scripture, we realize that the problem of being human has always been the same: living on our own terms, looking for answers where there are none.
In the words of C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity: “All that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”
The Bible is God’s testimony to present Himself to the world. At the same time, by grace, He offers us a way—the only Way, Jesus and His sacrifice—to reconcile with Him. Once we embrace the gospel, we should do nothing but walk as what we already are in Christ: children of God. That requires that we live under the authority of the Scriptures and their Author.
The Real Question
In order to persevere in reading the Bible (and in all that it means to be a Christian) we need to change our perspective. We need to take our eyes off ourselves and put them on Jesus. To achieve this, we must then change the questions we ask ourselves.
Pastor John Piper helps us find the right perspective:
“The fight of faith — the race of the Christian life — is not fought well or run well by asking, ‘what’s wrong with this or that?’ but by asking, ‘Is it in the way of greater faith and greater love and greater purity and greater courage and greater humility and greater patience and greater self-control?’ Not, ‘Is it a sin?’ but, ‘Does it help me run? Is it in the way?'”
The correct question is not “Does God get angry if I don’t ___________?” What we must ask is: Does the way I am walking lead me to know God (and therefore myself) better so that I can live in a way that brings glory to His Name?
We all fall short in doing what God demands of us, but the way to please the Father is not in seeking to do it our way, but in walking in the truth of His Word that makes us free to obey.
Take your Bible, open it, and pray that the Holy Spirit will show you the joy and delight there is in knowing God through every word. May your prayer be that of the psalmist: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Ps 119:18).