With the merciful you show yourself merciful;
with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;
with the purified you show yourself pure;
and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.
I’ve often wondered why nonbelievers see God so differently than I do. The One I see as holy and loving and affirming, they see as harsh, cruel, and distant. Sometimes I just look at people with wonder as they go off against God. How could they be so far from the truth?
David must have had the same question at some point – but instead of just wondering about it, he had an answer. When I read Psalm 18 again not too long ago, my inner conversation went like this…
Ah, so that’s why. People see what God wants them to see, and that’s based on their own character traits.
Wait… what if it’s more like people are projecting their own nature on to God? Maybe God has nothing to do with it. Maybe David has it backwards. Maybe people see God as they see themselves. That would be kind of like making God in their own image.
But that doesn’t hold true for many people I know. In my own experience, if the psychological explanation is accurate, I should see God as selfish, distant, and judgmental. But I don’t. So it has to be spiritual eyesight.
Hmmm… this would make an interesting topic to research. I wish I had time to do that.
Paul told the Corinthians that unbelievers were unable to see spiritual truth.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:3-5
Unbelievers who are open can ask God and He will show Himself to them. But for those who are not, no amount of discussion, argument, intimidation, threat, pleas, or explanations will make them see what they can’t.
When I pray for non-Christians now, and those who call themselves Christians but don’t live like they are, I ask God to open their eyes to who He really is. That way they will know the difference between who they perceive God to be and who He really is. Then their choice to accept or reject Him will be based on reality instead of misunderstanding.
Lord, may we all see You for who You really are.