If you asked me last week if I had anything in common with Twilight star Robert Pattinson, I would have said, “Yes, we’re both bipeds, we have hair that borders on Conan O’Brien height levels and we’re constantly harassed by lycanthropes.”
That last one is a stretch, but the other night we did see a bird attack a huge bug in a mid air battle. When we looked at the bug I told my wife, “I don’t want to alarm you but that looks an awful like the scarabs from the movie ‘the Mummy,’ starring Hollywood’s Brendan Fraser, or ‘the rich man’s Jerry O’Connell.’ That bird might have been protecting us from a spiritual attack.” (This is what it is like living with me, so that I believe I am harassed by werewolves is kind of accurate.)
But much to my surprise, me and Robert Pattinson actually share something rather large in common … our beliefs about God.
I didn’t know this until he did an interview on Nightline. Here is what he said:
“I guess I just thought if too many good things happen, then you’re gonna die at 30. I didn’t want that to happen. Yeah, so probably, I’m going to die at 30. Actually, it’s God saying, ‘Hey, you shouldn’t have asked for too much.’”
Clearly I don’t know Robert, but I know where he is coming from. It’s a pretty common belief, something I call “horror movie” faith.
We step into good situations and we are so in awe of them that we don’t trust them. It’s like a horror movie when someone walks into a room and says, “It’s quiet, too quiet.” We stand in the middle of our lives and assume there must be an axe murderer in the metaphorical closet because things are going well, too well.
It’s the idea that if good things happen to you, God will also allow something bad to happen in order to balance the scale. At the heart of this is some sort of corrupted form of Karma and justice, but you’d be surprised at how often I think about this.
I got a book deal. After dreaming about that since the third grade, I was offered the chance to write a book. And write for CNN. And speak across the country. And someone is going to get into a car wreck or get cancer. That’s just what happens next. I trust God, but I know that at some point, the other shoe is going to drop.
I don’t know if you struggle with this like me and Robert, but I want to pull the sheets back and show you the spiders in the bed. The problem with this belief is simple:
When you doubt God’s goodness, you doubt the very core of who he is.
Love and compassion and kindness are not his attributes. They are his heart and soul. They are not his hobbies. They are the lifeblood of who he is. They are his fingerprints and his breath. They are his everything.
You see this repeated over and over in the Bible. When asked to reveal himself to Moses in Exodus 33, do you know what he puts on display? Do you know what he showcases in a single moment to show the core of his presence? He reveals his goodness.
In Isaiah 30:18 do you know what we’re told is God’s reason to rise? The verse says, “he rises to show you compassion.” His purpose is compassion. We are told that he “Longs to be gracious.” Not likes, not even loves, he longs.
The devil doesn’t have to make you hate God. He doesn’t have to get you to do horrifically evil things. Those are neon sins we’d see from a million miles away. One of his greatest tricks is to get you close to God but make you doubt his goodness. To understand God as an idea but remain forever distant from his love. To wait for the punishment or hurt that is sure to come if things go well.
I hope Robert Pattinson doesn’t die at 30. I hope if something good happens to you today you won’t hold your breath for the other shoe to drop. I hope above all, that you’ll know God loves you.
Pure and simple, God loves you.