Over the last few weeks, I’ve thought about our perception of God and how that colors every aspect of our walk with him. If he is an angry, exacting God, we find ourselves thrown into a performance based relationship, scriptures as thoroughly prescriptive in our practice of religion, a self-loathing existence. We confirm this perception with incidents like Uzzah being struck dead steadying the ark, Nadab and Abihu offering strange fire, Ananias and Sapphira struck dead for lying about their contribution. Then in Romans 11:22, “Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.”

Seeing God as fickle, unpredictable, we likely respond like children of an alcoholic or of a father with multiple personalities. From day to day, you don’t know if you are dealing with the happy God or the angry God. You blame yourself for the “bad days” and you simply feel fortunate for the “good days”. When God describes himself for Moses in Exodus 3:14, he says “I am who I am” or as in the footnote in the NIV translation “I will be what I will be.” Considering Romans 9:16,18, you really don’t know what to expect. (“It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy… Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.”)

“God is love” is the other option. God like the “perfect” human father that loves unconditionally, providing physically and emotionally, providing instruction and discipline, giving us a safe place despite the disappointments and suffering the world throws at us. His methods not always understood, his intentions often mistaken, in the end he proves himself true to his relationship with us. Of course, there are passages to support this perspective like John 3:16 and 1 John 4:16. Jesus coming into the world is seen as the ultimate act of love (1 John 4:9 “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.”)

Some conclude that they don’t want to spend eternity with an angry, vengeful God that allows (or even causes) so much suffering, a God who is so unpredictable. Some live in constant fear that they may not believe the right doctrine or don’t “do life” good enough to remain in God’s mercy. Some live a life of license presuming on the boundless grace of God. Some have had a really good experience with a loving parent and can relate to the “God is love” type of God, to loving discipline, to misunderstood actions, to a relationship that defines every aspect of life.

So what is your God du jour?