August 29, 2020
Since I have been helping one of my children move this week, I wasn’t sure I was going to blog, but with all that I have been hearing in the news and commentaries lately, it got me thinking.
I began thinking about how much talk there is about God these days and what all that talk implies. So, here I am, sharing my thoughts again…..and would love to hear yours as well.
It seems to me that a lot of folks are using God to advance their own agendas and ideas. You know the phraseology:
- “God is on my side:” say the politicians as they use God to advance their own agendas; after all, God is a Republican/Democrat/Socialist/Libertarian, right? (If everyone claims God is on their side, how is that possible when these people are typically diametrically opposed in their views not to mention their theologies?).
- “We are here to defend God” (typically said when someone doesn’t like what someone else is doing and have decided ‘to defend God’ Who has very little to do with whatever seems to be in jeopardy. When has the Creator of all that is needed defending by his rather boastful creation? Seems to me it is another intimidation tactic: if you disagree with me, folks seem to say, you must be attacking God!.
- Often folks feel compelled to tell others what God really means in scripture – often the scripture is taken out of context, but no matter, it’s used to validate the speaker’s point; after all, if we can use God to make our ‘righteous’ point, surely God won’t mind? I get nervous when people start speaking for God with such confidence!
On and on it goes. And where it goes, is nowhere good! Using God for our own advancement, our own power and glory is never a good thing.
It reminds me of the New Testament account of Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:9-23). Simon was a magician who had developed quite a following because his magic was so amazing. The crowds even said that Simon was the power of God!
The man’s life was going along just fine until Philip, one of Christ’s apostles, showed up preaching about Jesus; people starting believing the Word and were baptized. Even Simon was baptized! Yet, for Simon there was more to it. He saw people being filled with the Spirit when Philip prayed and laid hands on them and Simon wanted that power for himself. He offered to PAY for the power – and Philip was furious! God’s power isn’t for sale – those who believe in God are not to use God for their own career advancement – or anything else for that matter! Simon considered it a regrettable lesson but a lesson learned and he was better for the teaching.
But being used by God? That’s another matter! To be used by God is to live in such a way that the presence and power of God is seen through our words and actions, as God’s blessings and grace to flow through us into the lives of others; that’s God’s intention for us and for all God has made. Jesus brought that point home time and again.
In Matthew 11:2-6, scripture recounts the time when John the Baptist was in prison, soon to be beheaded for holding Herod accountable for marrying his own brother’s wife. (Mark 6:14-29) John sent his followers to Jesus to ask: Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus’ answer? Not “Of course, I am! I am the Son of God, the Messiah of the world! What’s wrong with you John?” Absolutely not – Jesus didn’t use God to validate His identity, rather Christ quietly spoke of what He had done that was consistent with the prophesy of scripture: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the leper are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.
Jesus allowed God His Father to use Him, and His actions spoke to that use. Jesus didn’t strut around name dropping Who His Father was and try to work it to His advantage. His life spoke for itself.
Then again, in John 10:37-38, Jesus states: If I am not doing the works of My Father, then do not believe Me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me and I am in the Father.”
Jesus didn’t demand people believe in Who He is just because of what He said – Jesus simply said look at what I do – and how God is using Me for God’s glory!
And that is the key to what is going on today – and a point of discernment for us in our day to day living, our relationships within our homes, schools, businesses, and even churches:
- are people using God for their own glory and power?
- Such using of God is often apparent through judgmental speech and hate-filled, violent actions; name calling; diminishing the humanity of another; denying others the same quality of life we enjoy
- Are people allowing God to use them for God’s glory and power?
- God is love and functions with compassionate grace, forgiveness, and renewal; being used by God would mean living lives that reflect Who God is! through our God-generated words and actions.
As we continue on this journey of life that God has blessed us with, are we using God or allowing Him to use us? Our words and our works give the answer.
What about those who are vying for the privilege of leading us in the days, months and years to come? Are their words and actions in keeping with the God Whose name they so freely speak?
The discernment in all these things is up to our individual prayerful discernment.
And to God be the glory! AMEN.