I was driving to work one day when, at the end of a tree-lined road, there was a hot-air balloon visible in the sky. The particular balloon had a lighter area in its mid-section, with a darker pattern elsewhere. As a result, it looked a little like a giant eyeball in the sky, or maybe more like the “Eye of Sauron”.
Many of us are aware of being under general surveillance – perhaps not specifically, but in the sense of having security cameras all around (whether private or government-owned), and in having large technology companies track our various activities.
Sometimes, this data can be used for good, like helping us find products and services that we need (not just the ones that marketers want us to buy), or tracking down criminals and keeping them from harming others. Other times, though, it’s just creepy. Some people are certain that apps on their phone or devices in their home are listening to them all the time, especially when an ad or news article appears that is related to the subject of a recent conversation. (Typically, though, we have already given out more than enough information for advertisers to figure out what we might want to buy.)
In reality, though, none of what we do is a secret. The omniscient God is not only aware of our actions that others may not notice, but also our words said anonymously online. He even sees our thoughts and attitudes.
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
Psalms 139:8-10 NLT
However, just because He knows all of these things, doesn’t mean that we need to be paranoid. The difference between God and a spying government, jealous friend, or profit-minded algorithm developer, is that God loves us.
God sees our sinful actions, and knows our sinful thoughts, but for those who have accepted Jesus’ complete payment for their souls, those sins are covered. We don’t have to fear God knowing our sins. Instead, we can apologize for our bad choices, and ask for God’s help to do better next time.
For those who are still living with the impending consequences of their sins, God’s oversight is not something to run away from (which would be futile, anyway). Instead, it should direct us to the gracious offer of freedom that He offers to us, through Jesus Christ. This is not just a way to have our punishment commuted; it is also a chance to find purpose, live out our fullest potential, and enjoy privileges that span from this life into eternity.
God also sees our pain, our sorrow, and our needs. Unlike advertisers who want to get money from us (or from our insurance providers) to address our maladies – both real and imagined – God wants to help us through the bad times. We may have a part to play in His plan of healing, and He doesn’t promise a pain-free life until we reach Heaven, but His love for us includes a focus on our well-being, rather than what He can get out of it.
“What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
Luke 12:6-7 NLT
God also hears the words that we address to Him – whether cries of pain, words of joy and thanks, or half-formed questions and concerns.
And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.
Romans 8:26-27 NLT
He isn’t maliciously and surreptitiously recording our comments to use them against us later (although we can expect to give an account – see Matthew 12:36-37). Instead, He cares about us and – as a loving Father – wants to hear what is on our minds and hearts. Even our best friends might grow tired of our stories, our sorrows, and things that we care about deeply. God might challenge us to take action on any of these things, and to be a part of His plan for them, but I don’t think that He ever tunes us out.
So, yes: God is watching every move you make, and knows every word and thought that you have. But, unlike a creepy “eye in the sky”, this is actually a good thing. Don’t think of this as surveillance; think of it as, “God has our back”.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.