You've probably heard the saying "with great power comes great responsibility". Images of Peter Parker and Uncle Ben may flash in your mind; I am also reminded of a verse from the Bible, "from everyone who has been given much, much will be required" (Luke 12:48, NASB) when I hear this phrase. Often time, well meaning parents and teachers will use this verse to try to elicit obedience from children.
Our concepts and beliefs about God are shaped by the relationships we had with our parents as children and the model they displayed as "authority" figures. Taking scripture out of context, like the verse above, while may achieve the "behavior goal", also can result in the unintended consequences of perfectionism and a distorted view of God. This can lead a child, and down the road the adult, to believe that God never really accepts them and is never satisfied; that God cares more about what "works" a person does and not so much about having a relationship with a person who He loves and cares for deeply.
This is only one example of how someone might develop a distorted view of God and how it can affect not only a person's beliefs but also their behaviors. I have believed many distortions about God and have found the only way to correct distortions or lies, is to combat them with the Truth! This means investigating what the Bible says about God and His character. Let's consider a few of God's attributes:
- God is compassionate: "The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation." (Psalm 145:8-9, NLT)
- God is forgiving: "For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard. Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins." (Romans 3:23-24, NLT)
- God is omniscient: having unlimited knowledge and wisdom "O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know my thoughts even when I'm far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it." (Psalm 139:1-4, NLT)
- God is righteous: God is right and all he does is right. "The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He." (Deuteronomy 32:4, NASB)
- God is immutable: never changing "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8; NASB)
I recently saw a t-shirt that said "it's not our beliefs that matter, but our behavior". I think this rationale is flawed...it is our beliefs that inform our behavior! This is especially true when it comes to our beliefs about God. These learned concepts and distortions can have a negative impact for a lifetime if they are not combated with the the Truth of who the Bible says God is.
If you are struggling with perfectionism, feelings of worthlessness, or hopelessness and would like to learn more about counseling, please contact me at 210.789.9166 or email me.