1 John 4:17-21
There are two extremes to avoid when it comes to our view of God.
One is to view God as little more than a divine Santa Claus. He exists just to bless and shower us with gifts. He helps us when we are in need and affirms us when we’re down. He is basically our good friend who listens, nods and makes us feel better when things haven’t gone well. But He certainly wouldn’t call us to account for doing wrong. Nor would he judge anyone. He couldn’t possibly allow a place such as hell to exist. Or if there was such a place, He wouldn’t keep people there very long because that would be cruel. So He would ultimately bring everyone to heaven or just end the existence. In this view, God is basically your buddy or cuddly Grandpa who wouldn’t hurt a fly. He would be all about love and you relate to Him by loving Him and receiving His love.
The divine Santa Claus perspective may have developed from the other extreme view of God that once dominated. This view saw God as angry and wrathful ready to strike anyone at any time for something they did wrong. He is like a Joseph Stalin. Stalin was the former dictator of the Soviet Union. Stalin “loved” his aides and assistants until he became suspicious of them. Then one wrong step and they were gone. You could tell who was in and out of Stalin’s circle by the official photographs and paintings released of him. This one saw progressively less and less aides as Stalin purged them until he was the only one left in this picture.