I Want to Believe, But…Killjoy God
It can be difficult to believe in a God we cannot see. We wonder why God didn’t answer our prayers, why God allows suffering, or why we can’t feel His presence. God may not meet all your expectations—but that’s not necessarily bad news. In this four week series, I want to believe in God but…we will discuss four different versions of God which don’t exist—they’re fabrications people often want to believe about the nature of God. This week is Killjoy God – I don’t want to be held down by religion. I’d rather have fun and happiness in my life.
Something To Talk About:
It’s a popular image of God, isn’t it? We get the impression that God is mainly about saying no to things. God is anti-alcohol, anti-sex, anti-smoking, anti-freedom, anti-fun. In short, God is anti-everything. Is this true? Is God a cosmic killjoy—opposed to fun, pointing out faults and stifling any sense of joy we have? Nothing could be farther from the truth. We need to remember three things as we talk about this perception of God:
- You cannot earn God’s acceptance by obeying the law: No matter how hard you try, no matter how religious you are, no matter how many good works you do, or bad works you avoid, you cannot earn God’s acceptance by obeying the law. Our works do matter to God. But we must never think of them as a means to earn what God freely gives: grace, mercy, love, salvation, new life. Good works come as a response to the activity of grace in our lives. Yet, we must always remember that our salvation does not come by our works. This means, among other things, that you don’t have to get it all right to be in a relationship with God. You don’t have to be perfect, or even close. You don’t have to have perfect, unfaltering faith. You don’t have to have perfect theology, even if it was possible. Rather, you need only to receive God’s grace in faith and allow it to transform your life. In Ephesians 2:8, the apostle Paul is exceedingly clear that salvation comes to us from God’s grace, which we receive through faith (trust): “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (NIV).
- The purpose of the law is to show the need for a savior: “For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.“. (Romans 3:20) And Romans 3:23 adds, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” The law does not enable anyone to be saved because no one can keep all the demands of the law. Some would view the law as useless, but it is not. It has a purpose. It points out the simple fact that we are all sinners. God saving a sinner does not mean we were “decent” people who made a wrong turn at some point and simply needed a nudge in the right direction. Instead, being a sinner means we were complete enemies of God. The law shows us how helpless we are and how we cannot save ourselves. This is why the law will drive us to the answer we are looking for–Jesus. The law does not change us or bring us up to the standards of God, Jesus came and met all the righteous demands of God on the cross, and through His grace we are saved. The law is not the answer, grace is.
- Being right with God comes by faith in Christ: “Truly I know that it is so: But how can a man be in the right before God?” (Job 9:2 ESV) All throughout human history men have asked themselves that same question. The Bible clearly demonstrates that people can be right with God, but not on the basis of anything those people do. In order to get “right” with God, we must first understand what is “wrong.” The answer is sin. “There is no one who does good, not even one” (Psalm 14:3). We have rebelled against God’s commands; we “like sheep, have gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6). We need faith, specifically, faith that Jesus’ sacrificial death and miraculous resurrection qualify Him to be our Savior. “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9). Many other passages speak of the necessity of faith, such as John 20:27; Acts 16:31; Galatians 2:16; 3:11,26. Being right with God comes by faith in Christ alone. We don’t need religion—we need Christ.
- Do you ever feel like God is a cosmic kill joy? Why do you feel that way?
- What is the difference between religion and a relationship with Jesus Christ? What is the danger of relying on religion rather than a relationship with Christ?
- Why do people think “do’s” and “don’ts” when they think of religion? Do you consider the law as “do’s” and “don’ts”. How effective are we at complying with the law?
- In simple terms, how does the law demonstrate a need for a Savior?
- How do you define faith? What road blocks are there to developing and maintaining our faith?
- What do you feel like God is asking you to do in response to the weekend message? What is your next step? How can your Small Group support you in this?
Take One Thing Home with You:
There are people who consider themselves religious and are proud of it. There is nothing wrong with being religious as long as we understand what religion is and what a relationship with Jesus Christ is as well. When you think of religion, what comes to your mind—a set of rules, regulations and obligations. True religion is a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ died so we could have a living, vital relationship with God, not just a bunch of rules and regulations we’re forced to follow.
Yes, there are certain guidelines God wants us to follow, but His purpose in giving them is to protect us from the consequences of sin. When we have a real relationship with God through Christ, life gets exciting because He stirs up a passion inside us to love people—and we don’t have to struggle to do the things He calls us to do. It just happens naturally.