Belief – The Belief That Can Make You or Break You
By Lea Carawan
How do you view God? To what extent does God interact with the world? These were two of the questions asked by Paul Froese and Christopher Bader in a robust study described in their book America’s Four Gods. Their work found that the answers to the questions above provide tremendous insight into our worldview.
They note that our responses to these two questions predict the substance of our worldview better than skin color, wealth, political affiliation, or where we were raised. Essentially, our answers reveal the kind of transcendent authority we look to when making decisions and planning our lives.
There has been a great deal written on this throughout the ages, and the overwhelming conclusion seems to be that everything about our lives ---our attitudes, motives, desires, actions, and even our words --- is influenced by our view of God.
Whether our problems are financial, moral or emotional, whether we are tempted by lust, worry, anger, or insecurity, our behavior reflects our beliefs about God. What we believe to be true about God’s character affects our friendships, our work and leisure activities, the things we read, the social media we view, and even the music we listen to.
Froese and Bader describe four primary ways that people view God, if they believe in God:
● The Benevolent God
● The Critical or Just God
● The Distant or Detached God
● The Authoritative or Balanced God
The benevolent God is engaged but does not judge at all. This view of God tends to confuse tolerance with love and in extreme forms paints God as a type of cosmic indulgent parent.
The critical or just view of God sees Him as a judge that will not engage us in this lifetime. Usually, this view believes that God will judge us in the afterlife, but He isn’t really involved here and now. Therefore, this view believes that most punishment happens in the next life. As a result, this view tends to have minimal impact on behavior today because punishment is so far removed.
The distant or detached view of God suggests that He is neither engaged nor judging. This is a fully deistic view of God. He is the clockmaker that starts the clock ticking and then stands back and watches. This belief in God has little or no impact on thinking or behavior.
The authoritative or balanced view of God sees Him as fully engaged and actively judging right and wrong in this life and the next. This view sees God as a judge with a heart. God is actively involved with his creation, both caring for us and holding us accountable for what we do today.
Early on I was taught about both God’s goodness and His judgment. However, I leaned toward seeing Him as Judge which required me to be good in order to gain approval. I was good at keeping the rules. I understood choices and consequences. I had learned self-control early on and it worked to keep me from socially unacceptable behaviors. It made sense to me that God requires “staying in the lines” to be accepted by Him.
I learned that I would rather be “good” because God was already pleased; ‘being good” was simply my response because of His love and grace.
Several years after I became a Christian, I had a powerful revelation of God’s goodness and unconditional love that impacted my view of Him and my relationship with Him. I have shared this story before, but it bears repeating. I had an ‘Aha’ moment with a friend, Mark Walker. He told me that he wasn’t stressed under the immense amount of pressure he carried because he knew that God loved him as he was right now, even if he never did another thing for the rest of his life. His belief caused me to reflect on my belief about God and, in that moment, I realized that I had been trying to be “good” to please God so He would be happy with me. From that moment I learned that I would rather be “good” because He was already pleased; ‘being good” was simply my response because of His love and grace.
Rolfe also shared in a previous post about his revelation of grace. This revelation of grace changed his view of God when he understood that life in Jesus was not quid pro quo. He grew up believing that God was a hard task master. Because Rolfe lived out of shame, acceptance was based on performance. He viewed God as someone he had to keep pleased. But he couldn’t do it. Grace released him. This revelation of grace led to the belief that God was already pleased. He was a kind and loving God who drew him to repentance through love.
If you are not profoundly convinced that He loves you...ASK HIM to reveal His love to you. If you aren’t profoundly in love with Him, ask Him to increase your love.
With our view of God playing such a significant role in our lives and decisions, we must examine how we view Him, as well as whether or not our view is true. Often, our view of God grows and matures or sours through life’s experiences.
If we are not intentional about ensuring our view of God lines up with who He really is, it can become more distorted leading to many things including, disappointment with God, unrelenting fear or anxiety, poor choices, and/or unhealthy behavior.
Through personal experience we have found is that if you ask people about their view of God nearly everyone who is a genuine Christian wants to answer that they have the Balanced view of God. It often takes some time to uncover areas where they struggle to believe that God is engaged and can be trusted with their life, marriage, children, future, or dreams. This is where a skillful transformation coach can help.
Transformational Life Coaching helps a person change by changing the way they operate on a deeper level. Rather than just examining behaviors, habits, and goals, they delve into deep-rooted beliefs – about God, about themselves, about how the world works, about relationships, expectations.
Transformational coaches help people discover how their beliefs impact their behaviors and goals. They may help someone recognize God’s principles that govern our relationships and how to re-align themselves with God’s design. They can help people discover or clarify their purpose, reveal and replace erroneous beliefs and assumptions, realize their identity, or release their potential.
When we are deeply engaged in the drama and chaos of life, we tend to see our world and situation from a singular perspective, sometimes a distorted perspective. We may make judgements and decisions that are unhealthy.
Rolfe and I are particularly passionate about transformational coaching that leads to a change in BELIEFS which provides the catalyst for lasting change. We are particularly focused on helping clients identify and align their beliefs with God’s Word, which gives us great confidence in the client’s success – whatever they may be trying to change.
When it comes to our behavior, what we believe has the greatest impact on what we do, not what is reality or really true, but what we believe is true.
Through Transformed Living, we identify and explain the Belief Principle: What we believe to be true, we do! What we believe about God and ourselves are the two most influential beliefs we have. They impact nearly everything we do and say. When it comes to our behavior, what we believe has the greatest impact on what we do, not what is reality or really true, but what we believe is true.
The two beliefs that have the greatest impact on nearly every decision we make is our belief about God and our belief about ourselves (or our identity). Knowing that these two beliefs are essential in a person’s life, we are constantly listening for beliefs that are influencing a client’s behavior.
If you are a coach, mentor, or friend, some questions that can help jump start a great conversation related to a person’s belief about God are:
⮚ You have mentioned your relationship with God. How do you view God?
⮚ What behaviors in your life inform you that you have that belief?
⮚ If a person viewed God that way, what behaviors would follow?
⮚ If you needed to hear from God, what would you need to hear Him say?
⮚ What does God say about Himself that can apply to your situation?
As you seek to understand your own view of God, ask God to reveal Himself to you. Make this your highest aim to truly know the God who is both benevolent and just. I encourage you to read and meditate on verses like these and others that remind us of who God says He is.
Psalm 33:4-5 “For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.”
Psalm 34:8 “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”
Isaiah 41:3 “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Image by Freepik