"Brethren, I have written a letter unto you" (Hebrews 13:22).

February 14, 2022

God Abusers!

 Dear Friend,

      The Lord wants to say something to us - His covenant people, born-again Christians, Spirit-baptized churchgoers, professing Jesus followers, ministers and congregants. But what He is saying isn't very flattering.

     He's taking us to court. He's indicting us! The charge the Father has brought against us before heaven's jurists is: God abuse! We, of all generations, should understand this.

     We're experts on abuse - or the misuse, or shameful or injurious mistreatment, of a person or thing. We know all about substance abuse, spousal abuse, child abuse, employee abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, patient abuse, pastoral abuse, animal abuse, and a thousand other kinds of hurtful mistreatment of individuals, substances, or creatures. Every time we hear of an abuser being convicted and jailed, or better, repenting and being saved, we rejoice and feel the world is a better place.

     But despite our abundant attention to matters of abuse, there's one form of abuse to which we are totally blind, deaf, and dumb: God abuse!

     Nevertheless, God abuse is very real. It occurs when we attempt to misuse God. We twist our relationship with Him to serve our pleasure only. We crave our Benefactor's benefits endlessly and shamelessly while ignoring His desires constantly and impenitently. We consider our needs, wants, dreams, and goals only, without even a passing thought of His. Our "relationship" is no real relationship at all. Like a loveless marriage, it is void of passion, delight, and significant intimate time together. Thus, we have wronged, and grievously wounded, our heavenly Partner.

     And the time of reckoning has come. Heaven's court is now in session, and we are on trial. Let's quietly step inside and listen to the proceedings. Shhh . . .

     Heaven's prosecutor, or district attorney, is the Davidic worship leader, Asaph. His indictment is recorded in Psalm 81. In it, he makes a case law argument by reminding the court of one of its famous precedents: the time when the God of the Exodus filed a similar complaint against the people of the Exodus for God abuse.

     The DA explains God's successful earlier prosecution of Israel. Long ago the people of the Exodus made it clear that, once delivered, they wanted to be delivered from the God who delivered them. Shockingly, the people of the Exodus wanted the God of the Exodus to make an exodus from their lives! And to ensure He would no longer be worshiped by their Hebrew peers, they made a golden calf to take His place, attributing His gracious deliverance to its golden image!

     God lovingly pleaded with them to repent and return to Him. He challenged them to "open thy mouth wide," and then promised, "and I will fill it" (v. 10). But, to His profound grief, and their eternal shame, they responded by telling God to get lost! "But my people . . . would have none of me" (v. 11).

     It was abundantly clear: they wanted Him publicly, but not personally. They wanted Him to show up - and on time! But they didn't want to show up in His presence daily and spend a large quantity of quality time communing with Him and worshiping Him.

     This text has two meanings, one superficial and the other fundamental. On the surface, God was saying, "You don't need to seek help from idols, like the unenlightened pagans do. Just ask me for what you need, and I'll gladly and abundantly supply you." But on a deeper level, He was calling them to profound love for Him, unbroken devotion to Him, unswerving loyalty toward Him, and rich, sustaining fellowship with Him. Succinctly, He wanted their love; but, estranged, they wanted only to loathe Him.

     The ultimate heavenly Lover was pleading with His wayward earthly lover to return. "Open your mouth wide," indicating strong hunger and thirst, or earnest, even urgent desire. And when you do, "I [Myself] will fill it," or "All that I am will fully satiate your deep soul hunger and thirst, or fill to the full your innermost human appetites." "Not my provisions and blessings merely, but 'I' will fill you. That is, all of Me in My divine fullness, will 'fill' you so full you will never again hunger, or yearn, after other things or gods. Finally, it will dawn on you that their love is inferior. It simply cannot compare with Mine."

     Again, note God's intense grief and brokenness over His people's callous response to His passionate plea. They wanted "none of me" (v. 11); or, "Israel did not want me around" (NLT). So, they wanted His power, but not His presence; His assistance, but not His company; His gifts, but not Himself, the greatest Gift and Giver.

     In human terms, God's feelings were deeply hurt by those He felt the most love for - not the idol-worshiping pagans from whom He expected no affection, but His own blood-bought, covenant people! The people with whom He hoped to spend eternity! The people whose love He hoped would heal the gaping wound in His heart caused by His loss of first Lucifer's, and then Adam's, loving fellowship!

     With this sad precedent fresh on the court's mind, heaven's District Attorney, Asaph, now turns to apply its lesson to the present day. With a heavy heart, he faces the jury of our peers, the elders and saints who have gone before us. He tells them that we, this generation of born-again Christians, and our last-days, Laodicean congregations, have blindly repeated Israel's crime. And now, we must come to terms with our own God abuse.

     All of us, my fellow Christians, are sitting at the defendant's table. The evidence presented should not anger us, but quiet us. It should leave us brokenhearted, grieved, still, thoughtful. It is a crucial moment in time, a destiny determining moment. Our response will take us one way or the other. We will either justify ourselves or justify God. We will either proudly explain why we have not had a chance to respond to God's call and let His sweet fellowship fill our desires, or we will humbly acknowledge we have had plenty of opportunities to do so, but just haven't responded. Or, we have responded in a very limited way. Why?

     Like Israel, we've had our own agenda. We have been in charge of our lives and God has been on our staff - not as sovereign daily Lord but as a part-time Adviser. We have needed and wanted God's help in this treacherous world often, so we have opened our prayer-mouths wide often, yearning to have our worldly needs met and pressing troubles solved. And this was understandable, right, and in no way offensive or abusive to God. He expects us to present our needs and delights to meet them.

     But our crime, or abuse, has been our willful, ongoing avoidance of the One who is so constantly and affectionately looking after us. Like Israel of old, after every "exodus" from trouble, we've promptly made an exodus from our Deliverer and, by our indifference, made it clear to Him we want Him to make an exodus from our lives. Until the next time we need Him.

     In all of this, we have been blind, deaf, and quite dumb, ignoring this huge fact: we do not truly live, and cannot thrive, without our Benefactor's presence, love, and fellowship! "In thy presence is fullness of joy" (Psalm 16:11) and out of His presence is fullness of discontent and depression. And all the material, human, worldly blessings on earth cannot make us one bit less wretched.

     Only time in God's presence daily shields us from being intimidated by anyone else's presence. Only God's sweet love makes our bitterest circumstances palatable and keeps our hearts sweet. Only thoughtful study of God's Word feeds our inner man with thought-food from heaven. Only plenty of time privately praising and worshiping God saves us from praising political leaders or celebrities too highly. Only God's presence infuses us with life so irrepressible that all the pressure in this world can't squeeze it out of us. Only God's power strengthens our inner man with supernatural endurance to run and not be weary and walk and not faint while others are weary and faint all around us. Only God's hand holding our hand enables us to walk calmly and steadily through raging rivers and intense infernos without the slightest bit of discontent or panic.

     And all of this is ours today. Right now. While you read this piece. That is, if we will only immediately begin seeking our Benefactor hungrily, habitually, urgently, and daily with the same zeal with which we have sought His benefits or our heart idols. Open your heart's "mouth" today, and He will "fill it" - with Himself, with more of Him, with all of Him, with as much of Him as a redeemed human being can have and hold in mortal bodies in this fallen world. Until He comes for you!

     Time will tell your true response to Psalm 81's crucial call. If you spend the same amount of time, or less, intimately seeking your Benefactor, you have rejected it. If you spend more time alone with Him daily, and more time thanking Him and talking to Him through the day, you have received it.

     And all your legal problems will abruptly end. Your attorney, the Holy Spirit, will plead the court's leniency. Heaven's District Attorney will move that your charges be dropped. The Judge, your heavenly Father, will nod His sovereign consent. The jury of your peers, the elders and saints who have learned this vital lesson before you, will cheer your acquittal. And you'll walk out of court, a free man, a free woman, ready to "fill" your spiritual "mouth" with God Himself, more of Him, all of God, all the rest of your days.

     Oh, and then go help deliver other God abusers.

Letting Him fill my mouth,

Greg Hinnant
Greg Hinnant Ministries

       Greg Hinnant Ministries
PO Box 788, High Point, NC 27261