Tax time is just around the corner. We have been getting all those forms in the mail and I have just started crunching the numbers (thanks to Turbo Tax!). Turbo Tax certainly makes things a lot easier because I used to do it all by hand. Either way there is this feeling as you decipher through the tax codes, forms, pubs, and all the rest that the IRS is out there to trip you up. Surely that is not really the case but that can certainly be the feeling you get from trying to understand how to do your taxes based on the best available information out there. I wonder if some people have a similar view of God. I am sure there are many people out there who think God is like the IRS. Maybe there is even a trinitarian take on this – One writes the code (the ideal way things should be filled out = how life should be lived), the second receives the data and reviews it to see whose life didn’t line up with the code. The third does an audit of our lives (judgment day) to see just how bad the penalties are.
That would be a pretty good take on a legalistic and angry God who wants nothing more than to see us as sinners and punish us accordingly. Unfortunately many have that kind of view of God. Fortunately it isn’t the truth…It is not what the Bible has told us about who God really is and how he really acts. That misconstrued legalistic kind of God is the Gospel minus the grace. That is the cross minus the empty tomb and resurrection. That is a church who knows how to exert authority and dole out church discipline but remains clueless on how to love unconditionally.
Is God like the IRS? Is he just waiting for us to slip up so he can punish us? Of course not! Hear these words from someone who knew God very well:
A prayer of David.
1 Hear, O LORD, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy. 2 Guard my life, for I am devoted to you.
You are my God; save your servant
who trusts in you.
3 Have mercy on me, O Lord,
for I call to you all day long.
4 Bring joy to your servant,
for to you, O Lord,
I lift up my soul.
5 You are forgiving and good, O Lord,
abounding in love to all who call to you.
6 Hear my prayer, O LORD;
listen to my cry for mercy.
7 In the day of my trouble I will call to you,
for you will answer me.
8 Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord;
no deeds can compare with yours.
9 All the nations you have made
will come and worship before you, O Lord;
they will bring glory to your name.
10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
you alone are God.
11 Teach me your way, O LORD,
and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
12 I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.
14 The arrogant are attacking me, O God;
a band of ruthless men seeks my life—
men without regard for you.
15 But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and have mercy on me;
grant your strength to your servant
and save the son of your maidservant.
17 Give me a sign of your goodness,
that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
for you, O LORD, have helped me and comforted me.
Sound like an angry tax man to you?