I’ve noticed some Christian authors use the phrase “allow God to do” this or that in your life. “Allow his goodness to cause thankfulness to well up within you.” “Allow the soil of your hearts to make you receptive.” “Allow Scripture to fill your heart.” “Allow God’s word and his Spirit to teach you.” At first this might seem like a good thing, as God does give us choices in life and encourages us to come to him. But is there a better way to say this? The words we use to describe God and how he interacts with us are important.
To me, allowing someone to do something means I’m giving them permission. It also implies I’m in control and I’ve decided to let them do something for me or to me. That’s how it works between people because we often don’t trust each other. It takes a great deal of good experience and trust to allow people in, to allow them interest or liberties in our lives.
With God, it’s a bit different. He is completely trustworthy. Jesus is my friend and we have a relationship of trust, and yes it has built up over the years. We talk to each other and I share my concerns, questions, doubts, fears and feelings. As I do this, I grow closer to him and trust him more. As my trust grows, he works on my heart, transforming and strengthening me, helping me in my weakness – becoming my strength.
Too much of the time, Christianity is portrayed as transactional – if I do this, God will do that. If I allow him access to my mind and heart, he’ll do things for me. In a relationship of love (he loved us first) what we do together is not a matter of giving him permission or allowing him to do things in me and for me. It’s a matter of love. He loves me, I love him back and in the course and flow of that love, because he always wants the best for me, he works in me to make me more like Jesus.