Like the believers on the day of Pentecost, all we have to draw from is our past experience. If the thing that God is doing does not fit into our frame of reference, we don’t recognize it. We often reject what He is doing in pursuit of what He has done. No one had ever seen the baptism in the Holy Spirit. From the scriptures, they knew that it was going to happen. But they had no frame of reference so they couldn’t recognize it when they saw it!
Many people struggle with knowing “what is and what isn’t of God.” So often, the struggle revolves around intellectual concepts. We try to make truth fit into what we have already seen, heard and experienced. Those past experiences cause us to bend the truth to fit what we know.The love of God is one of the places we so dramatically limit God. Because our experience of love has been conditional and performance oriented, we have no frame of reference for being loved apart from performance. Conditional love, connected to our performance, gives the idea that to love you is to approve of your actions. The end of that logic means the absence of rejection is tantamount to the approval of our actions. People believe this because it is the only model they have experienced.
To accept such a model means the rejection of nearly every New Testament scripture about relating to God. Faith works by love (Gal 5:6). We are saved by faith. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Rom 14:23). So, if it is not based on God’s love for us, we will not trust Him (have faith) so we are in sin. Love drives out fear (1 John 4:18). Every aspect of walking with God is about love and trust! (He loves us so we trust Him!) But that’s not our life model!
Because we have rarely, if ever, seen unconditional love, we create images of what that means. To most, it looks like people going wild. Like the children of Israel we limit God because we only believe He can do what we have already seen done. Yes, again and again they tempted God, And limited the Holy One of Israel (Ps 78:41,NKJV). They knew He could get water from a rock, but they didn’t see how he could give them meat in the wilderness. We don’t know how God could love us when our life is unacceptable. So, we limit God based on our performance. We attempt to make God fit into the box of our life experience!