Have you ever noticed that companies seem to favor new customers over old and faithful ones? Try to get a newcomer discount from a cell phone company. Or when your cable or internet provider is offering a special for new customers for the first three to six months, call and report how you’ve been a faithful customer for five years and should be rewarded with a lowered rate for three to six months. I’m sure you can imagine the response you’ll get! Businesses want to attract new customers, and that is frequently much more important to them than rewarding customer loyalty.
Because of this attitude, loyal, long-standing customers often feel as if they’re relegated to a second-rate position. Just because they decided to begin using the company three years ago instead of right now, they are less important. Sometimes the older customers leave that company, hoping to get the newcomer deal by hopping somewhere else. Other times they just stick it out, maybe making their frustrations known to the company, or maybe just grumbling quietly to themselves and their friends.
Do you ever feel that God sees you that way?
I know, I know – I can hear the collective gasp through the computer. Of course we don’t think God feels that way about us! He loves us all the same! How could I even make such a statement!
But, stop and think about it. How often do we sit and watch new believers and envy their energy, vitality, and growing relationship with Christ? How often do we wish we could regain what they have? Or how many times do we see God perform miracles or shower blessings on someone else and realize that we don’t really believe that would happen to us? Somewhere deep in the recesses of our minds, we sometimes find ourselves feeling a bit like old news. A little second rate. A little ignored.
The truth is that there is a deep, underlying issue in how we view God. As much as we try to see Him as Scripture presents Him, we have preconceived notions that color our perspective. Sometimes we are not even aware of these preconceptions. They are so much a part of who we are that we are completely unconscious of them.
When the thoughts pop into our minds – thoughts like those of being second rate to God – we recoil from them. We chide ourselves for even thinking such thoughts, and we bury them as deeply as possible just in case someone else might perceive that we are thinking so wickedly.
But, we can never bury those thoughts from God. He knows every one of the preconceptions buried in our lives. He knows how they affect us and how they color our view of Him. And He wants to change those views, conforming our thoughts to those of purity and truth. So, He brings the preconceptions to our conscious thoughts and confronts us with them.
Which brings us to the question, what should we do with those thoughts? When we respond in mortification and burying them deeper, more is required for God to dig them out and purify us of those thoughts. Maybe instead we should deal with them. Confront them face to face. Acknowledge our struggles to our perfect, merciful, forgiving, patient God. Admit that He is bringing these realizations to our mind so as to teach, train, and perfect us. And then move forward from them, using the perfect strength of Jesus Christ to stand firm against the temptation of erroneous thoughts.
And, although it was primarily used as my introductory example, if you’ve ever felt second rate in God’s eyes, I challenge you to acknowledge it. Take it before the throne of God. Then let Him draw you powerfully to His Word to reveal truth to you. May that be a conscious step, whether your first or thousandth, toward allowing God to free you from those pesky preconceived notions and move you closer to His perfection of truth.