Can God be disappointed with us?

I’ve heard of disappointment with God–as though I could ever find disappointment in an immortal, all-knowing God of infinite love and mercy who died for my wretched, filthy soul.  I have no question whether or not I might be disappointed with God–never.

But what about God?  Can He be disappointed with us?

But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames. (1 Corinthians 3:10b-15, NLT)

The phrase

escaping through a wall of flames

doesn’t sound like something I want to be doing.  It sounds like a moment of panic, awful realization, and–when the hand of Jesus pulls the believer out from a smoking life–the most embarrassing moment of a person’s life.

There is no doubt this will be a moment of great gratitude for the believer saved by grace . . but it will also be a moment of humiliation.

To enter the Kingdom of Heaven with empty hands?

This surely doesn’t sound like a moment where God will be proud.

I think sometimes we want so badly for this life to be effortless and God’s expectations to be nothingness, that we create a false image of God as always proud of us, always ready to applause, always there with a positive word.  But that’s not the God presented in Scripture.  And, if we’re really honest with ourselves, it would be terrible parenting.

A child defying his parents and bullying his brothers and sisters and hoarding all the toys doesn’t need to hear, “I’m so proud of you.”  That would be encouraging the monster (sin nature) to grow.  In the same way, we cannot and should not expect God to be proud of us when we are selfish with our time, talent, or money . . or when we behave in ways that disgrace His Name . . or when we mistreat each other.

God can be disappointed in us–but that shouldn’t really be the news.  The news should be, God can be proud of us.  The immortal, all knowing God of infinite love and mercy who has rescued us can still be proud of us!

I think about adopting a dog from the pound.  I am the one who rescues the dog, cares for the dog and does everything for the dog.  But what if my dog one day runs into traffic and yanks a child out of the way of an oncoming car?  Now I am also proud of my dog.

I want God to be proud of me–not to try meriting my rescue–because there’s no way to do that–or to try to repay God’s kindness.  But what I can do is show God how much I love Him by giving Him all my time, talent, and money . . exalting His name . . and bringing honor to others.  I want God to be proud of me.  Each and every day.  Not to earn His love, but because He’s worth it.

The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” (Matthew 25:20-23, NIV)

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The two gods and the servant

god #1 and the self-made throne

“I’m all done making the throne,” god #1 calls with great pride.

“It’s such a beautiful throne, God.  You’ll be so proud.

“Hey, where are You, anyway?  Come sit on the throne I made You.  I know You’ll like it.  I know, because I like it, and You are just like me, only a little bigger–right?

“I have to admit . . it was a little tricky the first time I went through the Bible.  I realized right away You needed some help.  Someone might misinterpret You, God!  They might think they are supposed to read the whole Bible and that everything fits together like a puzzle.  But I figured it out.  I just threw out the pieces I didn’t want and I cut the other pieces to make nice, neat squares.  Then I made the pieces I kept fit together . . . kinda like a mosaic.

“Here’s what I came up with, God.

  • You’re a God of love, so You can’t have wrath.
  • You’re my Father, so You’re not my Master.
  • You’re my Servant, so You’re not my King.
  • You came to earth just for me, so I’m not supposed to live my life just for You.
  • You’re a God of peace, not of war.
  • You have compassion on humanity, so You wouldn’t speak out against sin.
  • You don’t want us to be hypocrites when we judge, so we’re not supposed to judge at all.
  • Your Kingdom is full of riches, so You wouldn’t want me to be poor right now.
  • You told the story of the Prodigal Son, so You didn’t tell the story of the man who went into the banquet hall without the proper clothes and was cast out into Hell.
  • You’re the Good Shepherd, so You couldn’t be the Great Divider who separates the saved and lost at the end of the age.
  • You made Heaven, so You didn’t make Hell.
  • You want us to treat others as we want to be treated, so You wouldn’t ever say “I never knew you” to anybody on the Day of Judgment.
  • You’re the God of the New Testament, so You can’t be the God of the Old Testament.
  • You taught us the greatest things about love we’ve ever learned, so You couldn’t be the one who said all that embarrassing stuff about prostitution and adultery and homosexuality.
  • You loved us so much You came to die for us, so we couldn’t be an abomination to You if we reject You.
  • You’re the God of good, so You can’t be the God of things I think are bad . . like those cities that got destroyed in the Old Testament where people–even children!–died.  That’s really embarrassing, God.  I’m so glad I can chalk that up to textual misunderstandings, symbolism, and, uh, well I’m sure there really is a way to explain it away . . .
  • You gave us freedom in Your sacrifice, so You couldn’t be the one who gives us rules.
  • You give us freedom to choose You or not choose You, so You couldn’t force everyone to bow down before You at the end of the world.

“Did You hear me when I said I made a throne for You?  When are You coming to see it?  I know You’ll like it.  I’m even giving You full reign of it.  (Of course, You can’t modify it.  It’s really special to me, God.  I made it.)  I know You must be proud of me, God.  After all, I’m not like god #2 . . I mean, do You know what god #2 believes?  Why, it’s a distortion of everything about You.”

_______________________________________________________________

god #2 and the self-made hole

“I’ve got the hole dug for you,” god #2 says, fist shaking in the air.  “Come fall in it, God.

“After all, I know who you are.  I’ve read the Bible–or at least, the Guide to Hating the Bible I found on the Internet.  What’s the difference?  I always knew I wanted to hate You–now I’ve found reasons that sound a whole lot better than saying I just don’t want to obey You.

Here’s my list of complaints, and I don’t care whether You have an answer for them or not in Your Word, because it’s my word that I want to hear.  god #1 is such an idiot, thinking You’re our subject and we’re the kings.  I know You’re not.  I’ve read Your Word.  I know You are King, so I am going to badmouth You until You finally fall into the hole of my slander and are no more.

  • You’re a God of wrath, so You can’t have love.
  • You want to be my Master, so You’ll never be my Father.
  • You want to be my King, so I won’t believe You were a Servant when You came to earth.
  • You want me to live my life just for You, and I won’t do it.  I want to believe You never did anything for me.
  • You’re a God of war, not of peace.
  • You speak out against sin, so You can’t have compassion on humanity.
  • You’re judgmental, and You don’t care that Your followers are hypocrites.
  • Your followers only say they believe in a future Kingdom because they want to be wealthy now.
  • You told the story of the man who came into the banquet hall without the proper clothes and was cast out into Hell, so You couldn’t have told the story of the Prodigal Son.
  • You’re the Great Divider who separates the saved and lost at the end of the age, so You couldn’t be the Good Shepherd.
  • You made Hell, so You didn’t make Heaven.
  • You will cast people into Hell on the Day of Judgment, so You don’t care if we treat others the way we want to be treated.
  • You’re the God of the Old Testament, so You can’t be the God of the New Testament.
  • You spoke out against prostitution and adultery and homosexuality and otherwise limit my sexual freedom, so You couldn’t have taught us the greatest things about love we’ve ever learned.
  • Since we are an abomination to You if we reject You, You couldn’t have loved us so much that You came to die for us.
  • You are the God of things I think are bad, so You can’t be the God of good.
  • You gives us rules, so You couldn’t have given us freedom in Your sacrifice.
  • You give us freedom to choose You or not choose You, so You couldn’t force everyone to bow down before You at the end of the world.

    the servant

“God, open the eyes of my friends,” the servant says.  They do not see that we are servants, not gods.

“My friend god #1 wants to rule You, yet she must sit on the throne she made for ‘You’ if she wants anyone to sit there at all.  And my friend god #2 wants to get rid of You, but he is the only one in the hole.

“They want to change You, God, into an object of self-worship or phony wrath.  But I don’t want to change you, God.  I want to be changed to be more like You in the attributes You shared with us when you made us in Your image, like love, forgiveness, justice, grace, wisdom, and mercy.

“Since

You have the words of eternal life (from John 6:68c)

“I will give You the hammer I used to build my throne.  Lord, I act as if it’s for You, but it’s with that very same hammer I crucified You because You did not turn out to be who I really wanted to worship all along: myself.

“And I will give You the shovel I use to dig a hole only I can fall into.  I have spent my life trying to bury You under my skepticism, but You are resurrected and out of the reach of all graveyards.

“I want to be Your servant.

  • You’re a God of wrath for evil, and You have love for those who turn to Your Son for mercy.
  • You are my Master, my Father, my King, my Friend, and, on earth, You were the Servant.
  • You have given me forgiveness of a debt beyond the wildest of human imaginations.  I will do anything for You, but I need Your strength to do it, because I am incapable of courage without You.
  • You are a God of peace, and You will bring wars to draw people to Your Name, and a final war to draw an eternal line between good and evil.
  • You speak out against sin because You hate evil.  You wound our consciences to draw us to Your everlasting salvation.
  • You are Judge.  You judge Your followers now and convict them of sins and the hypocrisy we are so often guilty of practicing as we struggle with our sin nature.  But we are drawn towards Your holiness.  And You will judge those who hate You in the next life, not to correct them, but to condemn them.
  • Your Kingdom is now and in the future.  It’s not a Kingdom built on money, political power, popularity, or pop culture.  It’s a Kingdom built on Jesus Christ and His Word.
  • You are the God who gave us many parables to warn us about Hell and bring us to repentance and eternal life.
  • You are the Good Shepherd for Your people, and one day You will justly judge sin and divide those who follow You from those who don’t.
  • You made Heaven first, and You made Hell as a place for those who will not give their evil to Christ to be paid for on the cross.
  • You have treated us above and beyond any kindness we could ever imagine.  You value our souls so much that You came and died to set us free.  You love us through Your Son.  And You will also cast us into Hell on the Day of Judgment if we do not believe in Your Son and worship His Reign.
  • You are the God of the Old Testament and the New Testament.
  • Your Law is perfect.  I cannot revise them.  If I disagree on Your commands, my heart must change, not Yours.  Your limitations on sexuality are righteous.
  • You loved us so much You sent Your only Son to die for us, and we are an abomination to You if we reject Your Son.  How total our darkness, God, if we reject the greatest gift of all eternity, Jesus Christ our Lord!
  • You are the God of goodness.  There is nothing bad in You.  If I think something You do is bad, I need to change, not You.
  • You give us rules, and You give us freedom from the eternal penalty of breaking those rules through Your sacrifice.
  • You give us freedom to choose You or not choose You.  One day that choice will be over, and all will bow down before You and glorify Your most holy Name.