knowing god humans and god personal relationship with god teens and god donnie mckinney free advice online counseling confidential help for teens teenagers
Humans and God

By Donnie McKinney  c 2004, 2005


I think it's vital to understand the human part of us before one can fully understand the simple message of God. The inability to understand and live with our "humanness" keeps Christians confused about what Christianity really means. We tend to get hung up on rules. Maybe it's not all that complicated.


The problem is that humans are, for the most part, controlled by subconscious conditioning. New Christians often think that their lives will also be "new," and then get confused when they realize that they're still human. They find themselves sinning, again, the very next day. Although God is fully capable of changing someone's life instantly, regardless of what it has been in the past, most new Christians simply haven't garnered enough faith to allow God to do that. So, we're stuck being the human-type person we were before we had an encounter with God. It confuses us.


Most all of the emails I receive from teens seeking help relate to "people" in their lives. Those "people" problems result from those around them not knowing what life's really about. At the extreme end of the scale, teens are so depressed by the quagmire of humans they find themselves in that they are considering suicide as a means of escape. Others are merely prevented from living life abundantly. Yet, many of the situations they find themselves in are not under their control. Rather, it is the result of the people around them being imperfect humans because of what they have, in turn, absorbed from other imperfect humans. "Humanness" is a vicious cycle.


It's really sad when a teenager is so confused that they begin to believe that the horrible situation they're currently placed in is all that life can be. They feel that they have no control over it. But, the problem is all they know is what they've lived with. The incorrect attitudes and confusion about life all around them gets so imbedded in their thinking, through their own human conditioning, that they can't even recognize that life can be different. It breaks my heart when a teen tells me, "I can't take this, anymore! I'd rather be dead."


It all goes back to human conditioning. The anger and hatred they live in the midst of makes them angry. They aren't even aware that they can break that cycle, instead of being consumed by it. Parents who cannot express love destroy their children's self-esteem, and then those teens can't express love. They can't even love themselves. A sixteen year-old girl, who had an anger problem, recently told me, "That's just the way I am."


The sad thing is that is the way she is - at least until she can learn that change is possible. Sadly, her human conditioning even prevents her from accepting change as a possibility. Knowing God's love can change it, but she has never been exposed to God in her dysfunctional family. All she knows is what she's absorbed from those around her. No one around her knows how to be happy and fulfilled in life. She's not an isolated case.


A concept that's hard for us humans to understand is that God knows we're humans. He created humans. He has used humans in His work throughout the ages. God knows we're not perfect. He knows we're never going to be perfect. But, despite all that, we let our humanness keep us from knowing God in a close, personal relationship.


The first obstacle to knowing God is simply that many teens have never had any exposure to God. What they think they know is from preconceived ideas they have picked up from other people who don't know God. I've found that many teens profess to be atheists. And, if they believe in God at all, they see Him only as some omnipotent, destructive force who judges people and sends them to hell.


Another factor keeping teens from knowing God is that they have the idea that Christians are religious nuts who are trying to "save" everybody, and who are always judging people. Unfortunately, the judging part is not all that far from the truth in a lot of instances. There seems to be a lot of confusion about what God really said. The fact is, no one can "save" anyone. God, alone, can influence someone to accept Him, and judging other people is diametrically opposite of what God is all about. Teens tell me that Christians are hypocrites. They don't want any part of Christianity.


In the following few paragraphs, I will attempt to show how that "human" part of us humans relates to what I believe God actually intended. I'm still learning every day I'm alive, so I don't pretend to know everything. This is just what I know today.


Everything we need to know about God is available in the Bible. God even explains the problem of human conditioning. We can learn a lot from a guy named Paul. Listen to what Paul says about his human side.


Romans 7:14,15 "For we know that the Law is spiritual, I however am of the flesh, and bound to sin. For neither do I understand to what I have sworn, nor do I do what I wish, except what I hate, that is what I do." [1]


That sounds like most of us humans, doesn't it? Even when we try to do "right," we do the opposite. I can hear his mother right now. I don't know how you say "cain't" in Aramaic, but she would be pointing her finger and saying, "Paul, cain't you do anything right?"


But, let's go back a few years to the day he had an encounter with God. This is before he changed his name from Saul to Paul. Saul was the worst persecutor of the new Christians. He hated them with a vengeance, tracked them down, tied them up, and took them off to prison. He was a real reprobate. But, look what happened to him as he was heading to Damascus to get rid of a few more Christians, there.


Acts 9:1-5 Saul, however, who was still filled with fury and murderous rage against the disciples of the Lord, Asked the chief high priests for a letter to give to the synagogue at Damascus, that if he finds men or women who followed this Way, that he should take them prisoner and bring them to Jerusalem. And as he went and began approaching Damascus, suddenly a light shined on him from heaven, And he fell on the ground, and he heard a voice that told him, "Saul, Saul, why do you reject me? You have been harsh in your treatment." He replied and said, "Who are you, my Lord?" And the Lord said, "I am the victorious Jesus, whom you are persecuting."


This is the same guy who "cain't do anything right." Yet, he made that earlier statement after God appeared to him, and talked to him. Has God ever appeared in a blinding light, and talked to you? Me either. God doesn't come down and talk to many of us. But, here's a guy who had this unbelievably dramatic encounter with God, and he still screws up all the time. Why do we think we will be any different? The fact is, we're not going to be different. We're all going to mess up and do human things. In fact, I'm pretty sure "human being" has to mean "screw-up" in some foreign language.


Let's see if we can learn something by going back even earlier in Paul's life, when he was a teenager. The following is from the story of Stephen being stoned by the Jewish leaders. He had been captured, and has just finished preaching a dramatic sermon, telling the Jews how they've messed up by not recognizing the Messiah. They didn't want to hear it. They were angry! They dragged him out and stoned him. Look who was standing around as a teenager, holding their robes while they did it, and soaking it all in.


Acts 8:58,59 And they seized him, took him outside the city, and they stoned him. And those who testified about him, placed their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen while he prayed and said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."


Here, we get a glimpse into Saul's human conditioning. It's easy to see why he grew up to hate Christians and tried to eradicate them. It's all he knew. He absorbed it from the people around him. Sound familiar? That's the same thing we humans are still doing. All we know is what we absorb from the people around us. Unfortunately, the humans around us aren't always perfect. But God understood why Saul acted the way he did. He loved him in spite of his "humanness."


It's also interesting to see that Saul also saw how Stephen acted. He knew Stephen was a Christian. He watched Stephen getting stoned, and he listened to him ask Jesus to forgive the men stoning him. That also stuck in Saul's mind. That's how he recognized Jesus when he appeared to him. Saul said, simply, "Who are you, my Lord?"


So, here's a guy who grew up around all the Jews who hated the new Christians, and who as a teenager, watched them stone Stephen. Then, he became the biggest Christian hater of them all. Listen, though, to what Jesus says about him. This scripture is after Saul was blinded when he saw Jesus, and was told to go to see Ananias. The following is Jesus telling Ananias to go open Saul's (Paul's) eyes. Ananias was afraid to go.


Acts 9:13-16 And Ananias said, "My Lord, I have heard from many [people] about this man, how much evil he subjects the saints in Jerusalem to, And, behold, even here he has been authorized by the chief high priests, to imprison all those who call on your name." And the Lord said to him, "Rise up and go, because he is the vessel chosen by me, to carry my name among the nations and kings and the children of the house of Israel. For I will show him how much he is destined to suffer because of my name."


Jesus chose Paul, the worst reprobate, to be the "vessel" to carry the gospel to the world. He forgot Saul's past. There were a lot of godly men available, but God still chose Saul. Do you suppose He might have done that on purpose, just to show us that He knows we're all humans? I don't think God ever did anything accidentally. God said, "I know you're human. I know you're imperfect. Here's what I want you to do."


Keep in mind that it was many years after he had such a dramatic encounter with God, that Paul was still saying, "nor do I do what I wish, except what I hate, that is what I do." The guy whom God chose to write most of the New Testament is still a human, even while he is helping God change the world. Is there any reason to think you or I will ever stop being human? Paul went even went so far as to say,


Romans 7:22. "For I am happy in the Law of God that is inside a human being's inner self."


So, relax. We're all human beings. God knows we're human, and He loves us, anyway. God is inside each one of us. So, accept yourself exactly like you are right this minute - an imperfect, but changing and growing, worthwhile human being - and understand that you're going to mess up like all humans do. You're never going to be perfect.


The gospel is very simple, but humans can't seem to leave it alone. Humans keep making up "rules." We start believing that our "rules" matter. They don't. We don't need to add to God's instructions. He told us everything we need to know. Listen to what God said. He summed up what He wants us to do in one succinct statement.


Galations 5:14. "For all the Law is fulfilled by one manifestation, that you love your kin as yourself."


Is that all there is to it? What about all those "laws" in Leviticus? What about the Ten Commandments? What about all the rules denominations have made up? He knows we can't possibly be perfect, and keep all those laws all the time. Paul explains to us what God intended, instead.


Romans 10:5-13 For Moses thus wrote of the righteousness through the Law, that whoever performs these [commandments] shall Live through them. Righteousness through faith, however, says thus, that you shall not say in your heart, "Who goes up to heaven and is with Christ? "And who goes to sheol's abyss and is raised by Christ from the Dead?" Except what does it say? Hold close this answer to your lips and in your heart, this is the Manifestation of Faith that we preach, And if you confess with your mouth our Lord Jesus And believe in your heart that God raised him from the Dead, you shall Live. For the heart that believes in him, is sanctified, and the lips that confess in him, Live. For Scriptures says,


"Whoever believes in him shall not perish."


And through this, He does not differentiate, neither the Jews, nor the Aramaic speaking people. For One is He, Lord of all, who is bountiful to all who call on Him. For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall Live.


That is the simple message. All Christianity is about is unconditional love, and being totally nonjudgmental. God came to earth in the form of a human to illustrate what He's really all about, because the Jewish people just hadn't "gotten" it. They thought the only way to heaven was to be perfect under the law. But, God knows that's impossible because they're human just like the rest of us. They just couldn't accept the simple message.


How do we take this simple message, and attempt to conform our lives to it? First, simply accept God's grace through simple faith. Eternal life is a gift. We can't do anything to deserve it. All we can do is simply accept it.


Ephesian 2: 8,9  For it was by Grace that he saved us through faith, and this was not of your doing, except the gift of God. Not through the performance [of deeds,] so that no human should be proud.


Humans are always trying to figure out what they have to "do" to gain eternal life. God said we can't "do" anything. He does it all.


John 6:28,29 They said to him, "What shall one do to do God's Work?" Jesus replied, telling them, "You do God's work as you believe in Whom He sends."


That kind of simplifies things, doesn't it? All we have to "do" is believe that Jesus is Who He says He is. That's it. Accept the fact that you're human, and confess the sins that you and every other human have committed. Start reprogramming your subconscious human conditioning to allow yourself to let God express unconditional love through you. Get rid of what you've learned from other humans. Stop judging other people. Live your life so that those around you notice that you have something they're missing. That's Christianity. Pretty simple, isn't it?


When we get to the second part of unconditional love, being totally nonjudgmental, that's where we humans seem to have the most problems. Maybe that concept is worth some additional discussion. When we understand human conditioning, why people think the way they do and act the way they do, it makes it much easier to stop judging them. We can look at being nonjudgmental from both human logic and from God's instructions.


When you're talking about human type people, there is no such thing as "reality." There is only our "perception" of reality. That means, simply, that you just can't know about another human. You can never know what they're thinking. All you can know is what you "perceive" about them. No matter what conclusion you arrive at from your "perception" of any other human, you're wrong. So, stop concluding things about people. Just accept them as they are - imperfect human beings, just like you and me - and love them unconditionally.


The spiritual side of being nonjudgmental relates to the fact that it's simply not our place to be judging people. That's God's job. Paul also explains this principle to us.


Romans 14:1-4 Whoever is weak in faith, live them a hand, and do not be divided in your opinions. For there are those who believe in eating everything and the weak are vegetarian. The one who eats everything should not criticize the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything, should not judge. For they all have communion with God. Who are you to judge the servant that is not yours? If he stands, he stands for his master, and if he falls, he falls for his master. Thus he upholds whom he upholds, for it is in his hands whom he raises.


So, don't worry about what other people do. That's between them and God. It's simply not our place to judge them. That's God's job. We have enough to worry about in our own lives. All we can do is love them unconditionally.


That also means, don't judge how other people worship God. That's their business, and God's business. God didn't start denominations, people did. Denominations are simply another manifestation of human conditioning. Each of us "absorbed" into our thinking whatever idiosyncrasies the other humans around us taught us. That's the human part of us coming out. It's all we know.


It's a huge undertaking to try to juggle being human with being part of God's Kingdom. We're never going to stop being human, but we can start "unlearning" the habits we've absorbed from other people through human conditioning. We can relate every thought we have and every action we take to unconditional love. We can make a little bit of progress every day. When we mess up, we can ask God to forgive us. God said that when He forgives something, it is as if it never even happened. Once God forgives us, we can forgive ourselves. Then, we can do things differently, next time. We're humans.


A funny thing happens, though, when you express unconditional love. It's really a much stricter standard than all the "law" and all the "rules" we used to worry about. When you love someone unconditionally, you can't steal his stuff. When you love someone unconditionally, you can't be angry with him. You can't kill him. You can't have illicit sex with someone whom you love unconditionally, because you can't take a chance on hurting them. Well, you get the picture. Maybe that's what God was trying to tell us humans.


Jim Rohn was talking about success in worldly life when he said, "Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day. It is the accumulative weight of our disciplines and our judgments that leads us to either fortune or failure."

That relates directly to success in our Christian lives, too. Start, today, making your disciplines and judgements those that lead you closer to living the simple message of Christ. It's your choice.


[1] All biblical references are quoted from the Disciples NEW TESTAMENT as translated by Victor Alexander directly from the Ancient Aramaic language that Jesus and the disciples spoke. When I'm trying to understand what God said, I like to read the exact words He spoke.

Related Article - Personal Relationship with God

Ask Donnie

Return to Miscellaneous Topics