Good cop, bad cop bites.
Have you ever been around a child who plays the whole “good cop/bad cop” game? Actually, it is something that isn’t limited to children. Adults play that game as well, even though it is one marked by extreme manipulation and insecurity.
Sometimes we play that game with God. We have this dual relationship going on with God as if at one point in our lives God serves as “the good cop” and then, at other times God is “the bad cop.”
When things are going well, life is clipping along, everyone is healthy, relationships are good, money is flowing, we look at God and think, WOW! What a great and good God.
Then – things take a turn. We encounter pain, perhaps we become ill. Someone that we love dies or has to battle an illness. Relationships fail, our finances are tight, or perhaps we lose our jobs. When we encounter those situations we think, “God doesn’t love me!” We begin to see God as “the bad cop.”
Yet, the nature of God is unchanging. That is one thing we see by reading The Shack. It is reiterated over and over again. Every time Mack has an encounter with Papa (God the Father), or Jesus, or Sarayu (the Holy Spirit), the nature of God is the exact same. It is one that is loving, giving, caring, compassionate, peace-giving, forgiving, and full of grace.
Therefore it is up to us to begin viewing God differently. It is up to us to begin viewing God consistently. God is always love. God loves us and God invites us to love God. Also, as we love God, we must also work on loving all of humanity.
Part of the understanding we can take away from reading The Shack is that our relationship with God is one that must be built on dependence, openness, vulnerability, and freedom. Far too often in life, we, as adults, yearn to build lives of independence, control, and security. Those things are in direct opposition than that which leads us to encounter the fullness and completeness of God.
Mack was expressing to Papa that he had viewed Papa as “the bad cop” and had viewed Jesus as “the good cop.” God remarked that lots of people were guilty of doing that very same thing. Yet Papa told Mack, “It is not about feeling guilty. Guilt will never help you find freedom in me. The best it can do is make you try harder to conform to some ethic on the outside. I’m about the inside.”
God cares about US! God cares about a relationship WITH us, which happens on our insides. God is not trying to get us to conform to some ethic or rule on the outside, but instead, God cares about our turning our insides upside down and inside out. Learning to live and love without boundaries. Learning to love without constraints.
We know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. Romans 6:6