God’s Shadow

love-in-lightsGod is your shadow at your right hand.

Psalms 121:5

The Baal Shem Tov taught that God acts toward individuals accordingly as they act toward other people. Thus, if people are willing to forgive those who have offended them, God will similarly overlook their misdeeds. If a person is very judgmental and reacts with anger to any offense, God will be equally strict. The meaning of, God is your shadow, is that a person’s shadow mimics his or her every action.

At a therapy session for family members of recovering alcoholics, one woman told the group that she had experienced frustration from many years of infertility and tremendous joy when she finally conceived. Her many expectations were shattered, however, when the child was born with Down’s syndrome.

“I came to love that child dearly,” she said, “but the greatest thing that child has done for me is to make me realize that if I can love him so in spite of his imperfections, then God can love me in spite of my many imperfections.”

If we wish to know how God will relate to us, the answer is simple: exactly in the same way we relate to others. If we demand perfection from others, He will demand it of us. If we can love others even though they do not measure up to our standards and expectations, then He will love us in spite of our shortcomings.

Today I shall…

…try to relate to people in the same manner I would wish God to relate to me.

-Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski
“Growing Each Day, Kislev 3”

I just reviewed the First Fruits of Zion television program episode The Golden Rule, which illustrates that principle of “do unto others” from a first century Jewish perspective.

I’ve also been reviewing a series of blog posts written by Pastor Tim Challies recording his impressions of John MacArthur’s Strange Fire conference, which is MacArthur’s commentary and warning about Pentecostalism and the Charismatic movement.

In reading the concluding summary (yes, I read ahead), it wasn’t the information or the scriptures presented by MacArthur and company that bothered me. I didn’t feel the real argument was about whether Pentecostalism was better or Reformed theology was better. For me, the issue was whether or not God would have handled the situation the same way MacArthur did.

Who knows, maybe He would have (and you may also believe that MacArthur is God’s tool to do just that).

Then I read messages like the one I quoted from Rabbi Twerski. I guess I’m just a soft and “mushy” inspirational Christian as opposed to one who sees God as perpetually wielding a club and who is ready to bludgeon us the minute we get out of line.

God knows we’re imperfect. God knows we’re messed up. God knows that, all things being equal, we’d mess up a free lunch…which is what most of us have done with the blessings and gifts He’s provided us.

“I came to love that child dearly,” she said, “but the greatest thing that child has done for me is to make me realize that if I can love him so in spite of his imperfections, then God can love me in spite of my many imperfections.”

I know the hardcore “justice” fans on the blogosphere will say that’s no excuse for not standing up to error and proceeding forward with the sword of truth to smite everyone who has drifted from the “true” path…uh, but doing it in “love,” of course.

If all you are as a person of faith is someone who has to fix the mistakes or others, the errors in theology and doctrine (or at least those things you perceive as errors), then you’re basically a mechanic who is always using a wrench and a hammer to hunt down that funny noise the car’s engine makes periodically.

Or, like the woman Rabbi Twerski talks about, we can be like a mother of a child who will always be imperfect, but not beyond improving. We don’t beat such a child, we shouldn’t beat any child, just because they’re imperfect. We influence and promote change by loving, not condemning.

Before we relate to any other human being regardless of the experience, if we could imagine how we would want God to relate to us under similar circumstances, maybe we’d be better people of faith. If we want God’s love and forgiveness, we have to be loving and forgiving. If we are harsh and judgmental, even if we’re being technically and scripturally correct, how will God judge us? How will God treat us?

Forgive us as we forgive others.

Matthew 6:12 (God’s Word Translation)

By the standard we use to treat others…that is the standard God will use on us.

2 thoughts on “God’s Shadow”

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