John Alan Turner

Writer, Theologian, Consultant, Speaker, Teacher

God's Default Setting

Most ancient religions believed that the gods did not like humans. Humans were accidental or incidental or created to do the yucky stuff gods did not want to do. Mostly, the gods were angry at humans. The gods would just as soon kill a human as interact with one. That was their default setting. So, humans had to do certain things to keep the gods from being angry, to appease them, change their disposition and convince the gods to bless the humans.

The God of the Bible is different. He doesn't start out angry. He creates humans on purpose with purpose. Humans are not here to be slaves or lackeys, and we don't have to convince God to bless us. Blessing is God's default setting.

In Genesis 1:22, God blesses the birds and the fish. Later in verse 28, God blesses the humans immediately after creating them. They hadn't had time to do anything to earn that blessing. God gives it preemptively.

The humans rebel and sin spreads deeper and wider until the whole world is corrupt. God begins again with Noah, and again we read that he immediately blesses the humans after the flood -- before they have a chance to demonstrate their repentance (Genesis 9:1). God does not bless in response. God blesses proactively.

It's God's default setting towards humans. He wants to bless us all.

When God appears to Abram in Genesis 12, he says, "Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father's house to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you" (vv1-3).

What's the one word that gets repeated over and over? Five times in three sentences we have some variation of bless.

This is what God does. God blesses. As far as we know, Abram hadn't done anything to earn this blessing. And the grammatical structure doesn't tie the blessing to Abram's obedience. There's no condition. The word "if" does not appear at the beginning of the pronouncement.

Abram is later held up as a paragon of faith (cf. Hebrews 11, Romans 4, Galatians 3). We're told to learn from him how we might also take this journey of faith God calls us to. Before we learn from or about Abram, though, we must learn this from and about God: God does not start out angry. God does not need you to appease him. God's not looking for a reason to kill you.

You don't have to convince God to be kind to you or talk him into being generous.

God has nothing but your best interests at heart. He likes to bless people. He wants to bless you.

That's his default setting.