I keep thinking about that story of the little girl with the fake pearls. A five-year-old girl bought her very own plastic pearl necklace with her very own money that she saved all year long. The little girl loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath. Her mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green. The pearls weren’t real but it didn’t matter to the little girl. She had bought them herself!The little girl had a very loving father. One day he said, “Sweetheart, do you love me?”“Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you.”“Then give me your pearls.”“Not my pearls! You can have my toy horse.”“That’s okay, Honey. Daddy loves you.” And he brushed her cheek with a kiss.About a week later, the little girl’s father asked again, “Do you love me?”“Daddy, you know I love you.”“Then give me your pearls.”“Not my pearls. You can have my baby doll.”“That’s okay. Daddy loves you.” And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.This happened over and over and the little girl wondered anxiously, “If he loves me, why does he want to take away something I love?”Eventually, the little girl nervously and teary eyed walked up to her father and held out her fake pearl necklace. “Here, Daddy. This is for you.”The father reached out with one hand to take the imitation pearl necklace and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of genuine pearls and gave them to his daughter. He had had them all the time, but was waiting for her to give up what she had to give her something even better.I’ve been wondering lately if what I cling to and am so afraid of losing are actually fake pearls…and when the time comes when I’m willing to lay them down and give them up, then God will be able to do immeasurably more than I could ask or imagine. (Copied from Kathystock.com)
And as I read the story, all I could think to say was... this dad is a DICK! He's a JERK! What a mean, cruel thing to do to your daughter! He's playing games with her to make her "prove" that she loves him before he gives her this amazing gift he got her. Also, why the hell can't she keep her plastic pearls and still have the real ones? Is there some law against having both? The plastic pearls for every day, the real pearls for special occasions? Because, remember, she wears her fake pearls all the time and never takes them off. You really think daddy dearest is gonna let her do that with real pearls? A FIVE YEAR OLD??? I'm not sure a five year old is actually even going to see real pearls as a better gift than fake pearls.
But so many, many evangelicals have this view of God, that God is very like this father. That God, in fact, is a dick, a jerk, a sociopath who makes us "prove" our love over and over and over before giving us blessings. Oh, they'd never admit that, they'd never use those words... but that's the attitude they have towards God. I know, because that's the attitude I had towards God. I had to bend over backwards to please Him, never even knowing exactly where the mark was so I could hit it, and if I did one thing wrong he'd "discipline" me by allowing me to go through terrible trials, but if I got it all right, then he'd (maybe) give me blessings.
And one day, I woke up, and I said "if that is what God is like, then he's a bully and a tyrant. Bullies and tyrants deserve to be opposed, not worshiped." And I spent a year or so wrestling within myself, trying to decide if God was even real, and if he was, was he good.
God met me one day, where my soul was crying out, and reassured me that God is good, fully good, and fully loving. That he loves me, that he wouldn't pull the kind of shenanigans described in the story. I'm sorry, but if THAT is your God, I reject him wholeheartedly. Fortunately, God is NOT a dick! He's loving, and holy, and good, and he is absolutely not going to force me to prove my love to him through sadistic tests before he demonstrates his love in return.
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:9-11