As a child, I had a flawed view of God. May be it was because I was raised in a strict Roman Catholic home or due to the fact I was afraid of being struck with a yard stick by nuns when I couldn’t recite the Our Father or Hail Mary? Either way, these experiences led me to develop an Old Testament perspective of God, one of judgment and wrath. Like C.S. Lewis’ opening paragraph of Book 3 in Mere Christianity, I felt as if God was waiting to punish me each time I sinned. This sense that God was going to strike me with lightning every time I made a bad decision blinded me from seeing inside the heart of God.
Thankfully, God allowed me to study under some of the greatest Bible teachers in the country to help dissolve these false assumptions. Pastors like Alistar Begg of Truth for Life in Ohio, Bill Hybels and Lee Strobel at Willow Creek in Chicago and Tommy Nelson of Denton Bible Church at several college retreats laid a solid foundation which I have been able to build upon since getting married. On Friday night, while listening to Christian music for 3 hours, God gave me a brief glimpse into the heart of God.
Since I have a tendency to get impatient with people, especially non-believers, God reminded me of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Jesus spent 3 years serving others, reaching out to the needy and re-educating the disciples to prepare them for life after his ascension. The only people Jesus ever got angry at were religious leaders, teachers of the law, his own disciples at times, those who didn’t welcome his own disciples in Matthew 10 and anyone who tried to turn the House of God into a den of robbers. Jesus knew that most people are blinded by Satan in their minds, 2 Corinthians 4:4, unable to grasp the gospel like the parable of the weeds, Matthew 13:24-30.
When you begin to discern the spiritual elements behind a person’s actions, Ephesians 6:12, you are able to overlook their sin to love and pray for people. Knowing the heart of God is one thing, carrying out God’s love is entirely different. This is why the apostle Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. If you have tried to love, then you know how hard it is to do, day in and day out. However, if you follow the blue print in Colossians 3:12-17, you just might be able to display the heart of God to those people you cross paths with daily. The next time you become impatient like me, remember Jesus’ perspective in Luke 19:42 by having compassion on sinners like a shepherd reaching out to his lost sheep!
by Jay Mankus