God and Boundaries

It’s Narcissist Friday!

A friend of ours had a one-sided falling out with a lady at the gym. The lady said our friend was self-centered and cared for no one but herself. But no one else sees our friend that way. Apparently, this lady was having some kind of issue and decided to take it out on our friend. That does happen.

Some people have suggested that God is the ultimate narcissist. He always expects His own way, always wants things centered on Him, and has little regard for the pain others suffer. Or so they say. But this is not the God of the Bible, nor the God in my life. I understand that God is often presented as angry and vengeful, but I suspect that angry preachers see Him as angry. God in their image, so to speak.

So, here’s a question: Does God respect our boundaries? Now, I know this is a strange thought for most of us. I certainly don’t want any boundaries in my life that keep God out. Because I trust in His love, I want everything open to Him. Because He is wise and good, I want to trust Him with everything.

At the same time, I see my relationship with God as real, a real relationship with a real Person. So, if I say that every relationship should have boundaries, what about our relationship with God? Let’s think that one through.

There have been times in my life when I just wanted God to take over, to make me do the right things and avoid the wrong things. Perhaps He has done this when I don’t realize it, but He doesn’t seem to do it when I am aware. Instead, I go through the struggle. He is with me, loving me, but He does not take over.

Why? Because He knows I don’t want to be a robot or a non-entity. I want my will. And He respects me enough to allow my will. He does not force me to love Him or obey Him. He works in me and through me and around me, but He does not take over. Even if I say I want Him to force me, He knows that would not be good for our relationship or my heart. So, He respects the boundaries I have, even when I say I don’t want them.

And, as long as I am being open, there are times in my life when I know God’s will and decide not to do it. The Spirit might even warn me, but I still do what I want. In a sense, I want God to back off and leave me alone. That’s just what He does. He steps back and allows me to make a fool of myself again.

Love does not force itself on others in any relationship. This is why not everyone will be saved. God will not force anyone to come for forgiveness or live forever with Him in glory. He respects the boundaries even when they break His heart.

Legalists say that we need rules and laws or else we will sin. Yet, they still sin. Some criticize the message of grace because it doesn’t try to force us away from sin. Yes, people who understand grace still sin. We all still sin because God respects our boundaries, no matter how foolish they might be. If there is an area of our lives that we don’t want God to touch, He almost certainly will not. He will help, He will call, He will convict, but He won’t stop us from doing what we want.

Now, I suspect that God is far more active in my life than I see or feel. Perhaps He does stop me from doing things or saying things more than I realize. Perhaps He does push me to do the right things. I know I have asked Him to do that many times. I also know that when I want to do it my way, He will usually let me. Yes, even though I suffer or others suffer because of my choices.

Of all the relationships in my life, my relationship with God is the one where I want no boundaries. Yet, He loves me enough to give them to me anyway. And He stays with me when I fail or fall. He wants me to choose Him, but He won’t force me to choose Him.

God is the ultimate Lover, rather than the ultimate narcissist. He desires His way because His way will protect me and bless me, but, even then, He will not force me. The legalist may see God as manipulative and controlling, but the opposite is true. Even though the Universe does center on Him, He is still focused on loving me.

Perhaps I could put it this way: the narcissist wants you to think he is god and pushes past your boundaries to force you to submit to him. God, on the other hand, is God and calls to you in patience and love while allowing you to make your own decisions.


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3 responses to “God and Boundaries

  1. Linda Lee @LadyQuixote

    Beautiful truths here. Thank you, Pastor Dave.

  2. Mistral

    Great explanation!!

  3. Donna

    So well put, so profoundly explained!
    Thank you!!!

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