The Easiest Way to Reject God

In the Bible, there’s no time in Israel’s history where they wanted to totally walk away from God. Instead, time and time again, they generally wanted to add to him, seeking something else to feel secure, significant, and at peace. God was good and all. But God wasn’t enough. Not really.

Here’s the irony: Ask any of the Israelites, at any given time, if they were trying to reject God. The answer would probably be, “Of course not!” But in adding to God, they were inherently rejecting him.

And we do the same thing.

Most of us don’t get to the point of telling God, “Get lost!” Instead, we keep God around, insisting along the way that we really really need other things to make us feel okay. We don’t walk away from God. But we add to him … and in so doing, we reject him.

Where does your life feel incomplete? When you look into the future, what are you longing for God to give you? What do you think you need in order for you to feel secure or significant?

Maybe you’ve said, “God, you’re great, but I need a spouse, like everybody else, or I just can’t imagine being happy.”

Maybe you’ve said, “God, I have to see some career advancement, like other people. If not, I’m not sure I can consider my life a success.”

Maybe you’ve said, “God, I have to look like this to feel like I have value, so I’m going to change X, Y, and Z. Because if I don’t look a certain way, I don’t think I’ll be okay with myself.”

Maybe you’ve said, “God, I have to have this healing. If my life is going with chronic pain, I don’t think I can ever live with joy.”

In all of these examples, the only good life you can imagine is one in which God gives you the specific thing you want. But if that “specific thing” is anything other than God, you’re trying to add to God. You’re walking the path of Israel, rejecting God by adding to him.

Does God want us to ask him for things? Absolutely. In fact, he wants us to ask with a lot more audacity and perseverance than most of us usually ask. Jesus told multiple parables with the same point: “Pray and never give up.” God is a gracious Father, which means he loves to bless his children.

But here’s the deal: We are so quick to exchange the gift for the Giver. Rather than thanking God for our blessings, we tend to use those blessings to edge God out. And we can start doing that even before he answers us, asking God for things out of a place of fear or insecurity.

If we’re pleading with God to answer us because we depend on God’s blessings to feel significant, we are rejecting him.

This is one of the biggest problems with the prosperity gospel: It’s built on the premise that life can’t be any good without physical and monetary prosperity. It says that “If God is good, and you have faith, he’ll make you healthy and rich because that’s the essence of the good life!”

But God’s people are supposed to be different. They are supposed to say, “Yes, I’d love material and physical prosperity. But I can be happy and secure without them. As long as God is present, I can have joy and be at peace.”

What’s supposed to amaze those around us is not that we have joy when we have prosperity. After all, how noteworthy is that, anyway? Everyone is happy when they prosper. No, what will amaze those around us is how joyful and secure we feel even when we don’t prosper.

When we say—and believe—that, “The Lord is my Shepherd, as long as he is close by, I have no needs,” then our neighbors and co-workers and family will begin to lean in.