"So then each of us will give an account of ourselves to God." - Romans 14:12
Every day on my drive to work, I used to pass a crumbling brick church with grime-covered windows and a tiny patch of dirt and weeds out front. This patch of dirt is where the church sign is, and for many months, behind the broken glass, it had this message on it:
"I wonder is the Lord satisfied with me?"
After driving past the sign about 200 times, it finally occurred to me that I'd never asked myself that question.
Because of course the Lord is satisfied with me! It's God's job. To approve of me even if no one else does. I was raised to believe in a supremely tactful Lord. One who, if dissatisfied with me, would be discreet about it. Such a God is comforting to have around in the background, but easy to forget all about for long stretches of time—like a distant relative in a nursing home.
I know there are many people whose lives are shadowed, if not destroyed, by being taught that God is always up there looking down on them—constantly judging, disapproving, doling out punishment. For them, the idea of a God who takes a break from judging to be merciful must be a huge relief.
But possibly for other people used to a benign God-in-the-background whose main function is just to be there, like wallpaper, the idea of a God who has standards—and uses them—might also be a relief.
It means there's a better judge of who you are and what you do than just other people. Or worse, just you. A God who judges is one whose comfort, when it comes, means something.
O thoughtful, considerate God, I have appreciated your quiet supportiveness the few times I've given it thought. But what I really want to know now is, are you satisfied with me?
Christina Villa is the former Director of Publishing, Identity, and Communications for the United Church of Christ.