I recently noticed some Christian songs that were encouraging listeners with the refrain “God is not against you,” and “God is for you.” I know that some famous preachers also seem to make this their regular mantra when they appear before their congregations. Whenever I hear such encouragement, however, I wonder how someone can make such a blanket statement to all people who might be listening.
I think of stories like the Exodus where God was clearly for the Israelites as God led them out of bondage, whereas God was against their Egyptian captors (Psalm 81:5).
Sometimes people have a fairy tale image of God. We can be prone to think of God as there for our well being, as existing to grant our wishes (at least sometimes), and as one who is always nice to us, whose prime goal is to make us comfortable in life, and who would never think of disciplining us.
The fact is, though, that God does discipline. And our sin does affect our relationship with God in this life. It is even possible that God can be against you.
- “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble” (James 4:6).
- “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:12).
- “Now the hand of the Lord is against you” (Acts 13:11).
Even though God can be against people, there is still a sense that God is for everyone, if by this we mean that “God so loved the world” (John 3:16). We can even say that God wants what is best for us.
At the same time though, sometimes God gives us “tough love” to help us straighten up. For example, Paul warned the Corinthians that if we celebrate the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner we might be “judged . . . by the Lord” and “disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:32).
I cannot tell everyone that God is not against them. I don’t know about you, but knowing this gives me strong impetus to repent from my sin and ensure that I stay in good relationship with God.
The good news is, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Praise the Lord!
Question: Can you think of any other ways that one can rightly say ‘God is for’ everyone?
This post was first published by Andrew Gabriel on his blog: Andrew K. Gabriel Pentecostal-Charismatic Theologian.