It’s beautiful and important to acknowledge the ways we are not God.
One way that I’ve been considering is a human’s capability to love people. Like the God whose image we were created in, we have the inherited trait to love.
Some people want to love everyone. Fully. Perfectly. At all times. Sometimes, we spread ourselves thin and end up disappointing people. We can’t meet with this person who needs us because we already committed the time to another, or we can’t respond to a text right away because we are preoccupied with another task. And still other times, we are simply too drained to love at all. We cannot avoid favoritism, either. As much as we want to say we have equal affection for everyone, it’s extremely rare that we actually do.
Others have people that they find as dependable sources of love, but when they inevitably are let down, they are crushed. Why couldn’t they be there when they said they would be? Why didn’t they respond with the words I needed to hear, when it was pretty obvious I needed them? Our confidants and soulmates, as much as we want them to be perfect and can even visualize them being so, cannot be.
And what does this say about God? Our flaws show us we are not God. If we are not God, but imperfect images, what then does the Perfect look like?
Have you considered how, when we pray, there are millions of others praying as well? Yet, even as you pray, you have a personal place before the Father. As though you are the only one speaking with Him. (I John 5:14-15; John 9:31; Hebrews 4:16)
Have you considered how, when you fail, your Father loves you no less than when everything was fine, and is there every breath, offering His grace? And He is able to do this for every one of His children, with no less attention given to you. You have 100% of your Savior’s love, 100% of the time. (Isaiah 41:10; Romans 8:38-39; Psalm 23:4)
Why is this good, that we cannot love like God can? Glorious, even? Well, if we could, we wouldn’t need God, would we? We would be self-satisfied, and probably self-destructive, too. But it also prevents any of us from becoming an idol to another.
In marriage, spouses cannot fully satisfy the other. They cannot perfectly, at all times, love the other. And yet it’s too common for spouses to make the other a god. Friends can do this, too, expecting perfect support at all times.
It’s when we realize that our friends or spouses are imperfect and incapable of loving fully (even if they love us so deeply), that we can turn to the God who perfectly can. We, being images of God’s love, can point back to the One we are reflecting, merely by our shortcomings. Because we fall short, we are redirected to the only One who can both fully love and fully satisfy our soul’s deepest needs.
This understanding of God’s love prevents us from idolizing ourselves, too. If we try to replace God in how we love others, we will continually find ourselves failing, fading, discouraged, and even bitter. When we recognize we’re not God, and cannot be, we readily redirect to the only One who can most completely love and fulfill those in need, as we do our best to show that love through our lives.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
How we can respond:
- Have grace for yourself when you cannot be fully there for someone in love. When you have done all you can but are simply hindered from being everything, remember, “being everything” is not yours to be. Point them to God instead, and praise God for His faithfulness to each of His children.
- Have grace for others when they fail you after you expected love from them. Remember that they are not God, and even if they met every need you can list, they still would not be able to infallible or divine. Forgive, and turn to God, who readily stands over heaven and earth – and loves you, personally, completely.
Knowing God as the Perfect Love frees us from the burdens of having to be that Perfect Love to others, try as we might. We reflect the Perfect Love and can show others a glimpse of where to turn.
Knowing God as the Perfect Love frees us from depending on imperfect love, as much as we may wish we could. We have the most dependable love, right there beside us at all times.
It’s beautiful that we are not God. And it’s beautiful that we can know this God.
Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
I Thessalonians 3:11-13