August 18, 1998
Back in the 80's, a computer wasn’t considered one hundred percent compatible with IBM unless it could run Microsoft’s Flight Simulator. How technology has changed! Computer usage has become far too complex to evaluate with such a simple comparison.
Word usage changes too. “Compatible” once referred to human relationships. When a man and a woman considered themselves compatible, they got married. Today, lack of compatibility is still given as a reason for marital breakdown.
Like two computers, in a compatible relationship two people have similar dispositions or tastes. They get along because they think alike or have learned to understand one another. Sometimes they anticipate one another’s words and finish each other’s sentences.
What couple does not want to be compatible? While some might settle at both cheering for the same football team, wives and husbands want to be understood by a partner who shares their interests and ambitions, yet married couples know this takes effort.
Compatibility of interests is more apt to draw people together, and even without shared hobbies or interests, two people can cultivate at least one mutual interest. Understanding another person’s character and deepest desires takes more work.
If being happily compatible in marriage involves hard work, what about compatibility with God? Is it possible to be involved in a relationship with Him that includes sharing a similar disposition? Can we be interested in the same activities and goals as He is?
Many people try to enter a relationship with God on their terms, supposing He thinks like they do. In their minds, He will wink at their lifestyle, support their ambitions and help them reach their goals. However, we err if we think God’s character is like our own or that His plans and desires are like ours.
The first clue is that the Bible is clear on how to enter a relationship with God. It must be on His terms. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” The Apostle Peter adds, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” God tells us how to know Him; we cannot decide this for ourselves.
Secondly, God does not think or act like we do. He says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. . . .” Although we were made in His image, He is holy and we are not. Although He took on human flesh and became a man, those who observed Jesus said no man ever spoke or acted like He did. So how can we be compatible with God? We are not like Him in character or the way we behave.
Some say you simply do the things Jesus would do, imitating His actions. Some actions may make us give us an outward appearance of being like Him, but just as compatibility with your spouse involves far more than acting like them, so does being in harmony with God.
Our problem is with both “doing” and “being.” We have trouble doing godlike things because of who we are. It is a matter of the heart. To conform to His character or have the same interests as He does, we need to “be” like Him, think like He does. Who can say they know for sure the thoughts of God? Remember, God said His thoughts are not like ours.
Nearly every married person seeking compatibility has said silently or aloud, “I wish I could get into her (or his) heart—then I would know what she thinks and feels.” We might think if we could get into God’s heart, we would know Him, but we cannot do that.
However, God can get into our hearts, not to understand our thoughts and feelings because He already does, but so we can know His. Oddly enough, that is how to be compatible with God; we need to invite Him in.