Savior AND Lord

Picture this scenario… The football game is tied in the fourth quarter.  The increasing intensity of the fans’ cheering causes the stadium to rumble.  Exhausted football players continue to take their three-point stance on the line, running on pure adrenaline.  The men in black and white stripes scatter across the field with whistle in mouth, watching every move to make sure the game is played by the rules.  In a final attempt to score and win the game, the coach turns to a player that has been on the bench the whole game.  He has the perfect play for a fresh player that will fool the other team and launch them to victory.  “Put your helmet on, you’re going in!” commands the coach.  With lazy, uninterested eyes the player replies, “Oh I’m not here to play football.  I just want to wear the jersey so I can say I’m on the team.”   

Sound ridiculous?  Of course it does.  Someone who just wants to wear the jersey for their own benefit with no respect for the coaches, no dedication to the team, and no real passion for the game would be considered a fake.  

This scenario represents a person who wears the name “Christian” with no real love, respect, and dedication to Jesus Christ and his teaching.  Many people are more than willing to accept him as Savior but less willing to serve him as Lord.  Let’s explore the difference…

In II Peter 3:18, Peter encourages us to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever.”  Notice how he specifies the two different titles when referring to Jesus Christ… “Lord AND Savior.”  Let’s break it down….

First let’s explore Jesus’ title as “Savior”.  A savior is “a person who rescues others from danger, evil, destruction, or death.”  That is exactly what Jesus did when he gave himself up to be crucified on the cross for us.  II Timothy 1:10 says that God’s grace has been shown to us “by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”  Many people have realized what a great gift salvation is and have received forgiveness for all their sins by accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior.  But it doesn’t end there.  And that’s the point of this message.  It’s one thing to accept Jesus as your Savior so that you won’t go to Hell, which is obviously smart, but it’s another thing to accept him as the Lord of your life, choosing His will over your own.

Now let’s explore Jesus’ title as “Lord”.  A lord is “a master, the one in control, the supreme authority.”  Jesus is only our Lord if we are fully submitted to his control and authority in every aspect of our lives.  Do you know why many of us are quick to acknowledge him as Savior but not so quick to acknowledge him as Lord?  It’s because we don’t want to lose control of our life.  Basically what we are saying is “Jesus, keep me out of Hell but keep out of my life.”  This is obviously not what Jesus had in mind when he suffered and died on the cross for us.  Calling Jesus your Lord and following Jesus as your Lord are two different things.  If Jesus is really Lord to you then you are studying his teachings and applying them to your life to the best of your ability. However, if we confess him as Savior yet live life our way and ignore his instruction given to us in the scripture, then we have become that football player who just wants to wear the jersey but doesn’t want to get in the game.  

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to get us to question our salvation.  But I am trying to get us to question our level of dedication to the Savior that suffered so much to save us from our sins and give us “abundant life.”  And, honestly, I’m just trying to expose a lie of satan that attempts to convince us that we win with Jesus as our Savior but lose with Him as Lord.  With Jesus as our Savior we receive from him.  And who wouldn’t want to receive from the hand of their Creator?  With Jesus as Savior we receive forgiveness, peace, joy, promises, eternal life, and much more.  But with Jesus as our Lord we give of ourselves to Him.  We give our desires, goals, time, devotion, talents, worship, and our whole hearts and minds.  The truth is we don’t lose by giving to God; we gain even more.  He is a good Lord!  A really, REALLY good Lord!  He loves us with a love that we can’t even fathom.  And that is why he so desperately wants us to follow him and obey him as the Lord of our life.  Not so much for his benefit as it is for ours.

So that you don’t think this is just my opinion, let me quote Jesus:  “Not everyone that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”(Matthew 7:21-23)

Now between you and me and the fence post, these verses bring shivers up my spine.  Jesus is making it very clear that he is not just looking for some empty confession from us.  He is looking for people who will “do” his will as Lord, not just call him that.  So what we find here in Jesus’ comment is that it’s really not possible to accept Jesus as our Savior without also accepting him as our Lord.

For many years, the church has contributed to the confusion on this matter, begging people to come to the altar and “repeat this prayer after me” in order to get some sort of confession out of them.  Sometimes it’s done with the best of intentions and a true desire to lead people to the Lord, and sometimes it’s done with a selfish motive so that they can brag about leading “so and so” to the Lord.  It ends up becoming a race to see how many people they can get to make a “confession of faith.”  Every “confession”, many made without true repentance and a faulty understanding of the gospel, becomes a trophy in that church’s trophy case, so to speak.  What this has done is create an incomplete understanding of what the gospel is really all about.  If we can convince people to accept Jesus as their Savior so that they won’t go to Hell without teaching them that changes must take place in their lives by surrendering to him as Lord, then we end up with a lot of people “saying Lord, Lord” with no true conversion.  What has anyone gained if we have a bunch of halfhearted confessions, dull and meaningless baptisms, and a roster full of unrepentant names on our church membership books?  All we’ve done is give people a false sense of religious security that will not stand up on the Day of Judgement, according to Jesus.  

How would your boss at work react if you constantly called him boss, told him how great of a boss he was, gave him a gift on Boss Appreciation Day, but then wouldn’t do the tasks that he asked you to do?  He’s not impressed that you call him boss if you’re not obeying him as your boss.  Jesus doesn’t just want us to call him Savior; he wants us to obey his instructions as Lord.  Some of us need to ask ourselves this simple question: “what if I gave my boss the same dedication I give to Jesus?”  How long would you be employed?  I think that’s a fair question don’t you?

Jesus maintained this kind of teaching throughout his entire ministry.  In Matthew 25:1-13, He told an illustrated story that represents what “the kingdom of Heaven is like.”  It goes something like this:  there were ten women…virgins to be exact.  And to be even more specific… they were bridesmaids.  Five of the virgins were considered wise and the other five were considered foolish.  We will get to that part of the story in a minute.  All of these ladies were dressed to the hilt in their finest wedding dresses, giggly and excited for the bride-to-be.  All of these ladies had a lamp in hand as they went to the designated place to meet the groom.  

Now let me explain something before I go on.  Jewish weddings of that day were much different than our weddings today.  Whereas today’s weddings last an average of a few hours, the Jewish wedding lasted a few days.  Typically with weddings today, we have  approximately a thirty minute ceremony in which we repeat after the preacher and say “I do”, followed by some cake, punch, peanuts, butter mints, and if you’re lucky…pulled pork!  Then the happy bride and groom will lock their arms together, attempting to sample some punch, just before romantically feeding each other a small piece of the wedding cake that generally ends up crammed into their nostrils.  Toasts are made, dances are shared, presents are opened, rice is thrown, and everyone is home in time to watch Matlock.  

However, the Jewish wedding was much longer and much more complex.  I won’t go into all the details, although it is pretty interesting, but will rather just explain the parts that are relevant to the point Jesus was trying to make with this story.  Before the Jewish wedding took place, the bride and groom were separated for a period of time in which the groom was away preparing a place for him and his new wife to live.  Once it was completed, the groom would gather together all his buddies, aka groomsmen, and head to the home of his bride.  The bride and bridesmaids didn’t know exactly when he would show up, so they just had to have everything prepared when he got there.  Once he arrived, the celebration began.  After the huge wedding ceremony at the bride’s house, the entire wedding party formed a huge parade and continued the celebration all the way to the home that the groom had prepared, where a huge banquet awaited them.  And that banquet would last for days.  

Now keep all that in mind as we go back to the ten virgins in Jesus’ story.  All ten of them were dressed in their wedding garb.  All ten of them had a lamp in their hand because it was night time.  And all ten of them were at the designated rendezvous point to meet the groom.  So what was the difference in these ten ladies that made five of them wise and five of them foolish? It was just one thing…extra oil.  Remember now, nobody knew for sure when the groom would arrive so his instructions were to keep themselves ready.   Knowing that it could be a long night of waiting, the wise virgins took the command to be ready seriously and took extra oil just in case their lamps ran out.  The foolish virgins decided to gamble it.  Ignoring the command to be prepared, they took only the oil in their lamp, hoping it would be enough.  

Unfortunately for them, it wasn’t enough.  The night was getting long, and everyone’s eyes were getting heavy.  At some point after the foolish virgins had dozed off, their lamps ran out of oil and went dark.  Suddenly their eyes flew open, and they jumped to their feet as they heard a loud announcement at midnight.  “The groom is coming!”  Their hearts sank as they realized their lamps had gone out and they had no more oil.  No oil meant no light, and no light meant they couldn’t make their way through the dark to meet the groom.  In a panic, they realized that they were going to have to make a mad dash to the store to buy some more oil.  So they jumped on their camels and headed to Wal-Mart.  (Okay I made that part up.)  But by the time they got back from the oil store, everyone was gone.  The five wise virgins and the rest of the wedding party had all went inside to the marriage ceremony, and the doors were locked tight.  Desperate not to be left out, the five foolish virgins pounded on the rough, splinter filled door and begged the groom to let them in.  Through the thick wooden doors their muffled voices cried out, “Lord, Lord, open to us.”  

Did you catch it?  They called him Lord even though they refused to obey his instructions.  They wanted his company and all the blessings that went with it, without respecting his authority over them.  But the groom wouldn’t have any part of that kind of relationship.  He replied through the locked barrier that stood between him and the foolish virgins, “I don’t know you.”  Ouch!  In essence, he was saying, “I’m only going to invite people in to my marriage that submit to my authority and obey my instructions, not just the ones who talk a good game.”  Jesus told this whole story for a reason.  He told it to show us what we can expect from his heart and what he expects from ours.  The Bible uses this Jewish wedding scenario to illustrate Jesus’ return.  Jesus is the groom who went away “to prepare a place” for his bride, which is made up of all the people who have accepted him as Savior and Lord.  Someday, he will return to take his “bride” to the “marriage supper of the Lamb” that will kick start our eternity with him. And just as the virgins didn’t know when the groom would come, we don’t know when Jesus will come.  There will be many who remained ready and watching that will enjoy eternity with Him.  But unfortunately there will be many who will ignore him their whole life and hear him say, “I don’t know you.”  Our instructions from Jesus are the same as their instructions were…just be ready!  So put on your jersey and get in the game…because “The Lord” said so.  

What is Your Life's Objective?

 

An objective is something you are trying to achieve.  A goal or purpose that you are aiming for.  Something with meaning that you can put your effort into.  Our lives are filled with short term objectives that each one of us strive to meet every day.  For example, those who are in high school and college have an objective to graduate.  Once they graduate the objective becomes finding a job in their field of study.  After getting a job their objective is to learn all they can and work hard to advance up the ladder.  As their career matures their objective changes to building a big enough nest egg to retire.  Once retired their objective becomes spoiling the grandchildren rotten, and giving an evil giggle as they send them home with their blood stream full of sugar for the unsuspecting parents to try to keep them from bouncing off the walls.  (I speak from experience.  And as you might detect from my hint of sarcasm, I’m still a little bitter)  

These are all wonderful and necessary objectives in life.  (With the exception of the wild children with a sugar buzz)  But what is your life’s main objective that all these other objectives fit into?  Life is way too short to just simply exist, with no real purpose or meaning.  James 4:14 compares life to a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.  In the short time that you will be on this earth, what are you trying to achieve?  What goal or purpose are you aiming for?  Are you pouring your whole life into achieving the short term objectives that will cease to be a blessing to you the moment you draw your last breath?  Or have you established your life’s objective as one that will be an eternal blessing to you?  I know these are hard questions.  One might even say they are scary questions.  But they are very necessary questions.  And they are questions that we need to honestly ask ourselves as soon as possible.  Even as I write this, the minute hand has spun around the clock several times without me hardly even noticing it.  Before another moment sneaks past you, have a heart to heart with yourself and determine what you are really living for.  What is your life’s objective?

When we have a solid objective it will keep us on task when we might otherwise give up.  For example, at the beginning of this year I participated in a weight loss challenge sponsored by the YMCA.  A few friends and I put together a team for the contest with an objective to win the cash price.  (An objective we fell severely short of I might add.  Let’s just say two of us took the objective a little more serious than the other two.  I won’t mention any names…you know who you are.  I’m not bitter…) However, for me the real objective was not the cash prize.  (I really never expected to win that anyway considering the team I was on.  I’m not bitter…) My objective was to lose 20 pounds.  I had gotten to the point where it was either trim up or buy a whole new wardrobe.  I figured it would be cheaper to trim up.  But I knew that if I just casually attempted to lose weight with no real goal then I wouldn’t accomplish anything. It was my objective of losing 20 pounds that kept me running on the treadmill when I would rather rare back in my recliner.  It was my objective that kept me from shoving a Little Debbie snack cake in my face every few hours.  (A love affair with Little Debbie is my kryptonite) Being lazy in a Lazy Boy and shoving my pie hole full of pie is part of the natural appetites of this flesh.  However, a rock solid objective enables us to press past those natural appetites of the flesh in order to achieve a greater purpose even when we don’t feel like it.  

If following Jesus is my life’s objective then that objective will enable me to do the right thing even when challenged to do things I don’t feel like doing.  For example, I may not feel like doing good to someone who hates me, or doing unto others as I would have them do unto me, or going to church on a beautiful Sunday morning rather than worshipping my hobbies, or giving some of my hard earned money to help someone less fortunate, or visit someone in prison, etc, etc, etc.  But these are all things that Jesus asks us to do.  These are the things that touch his heart.  Therefore, if our objective is to follow him then we will be obedient to his will whether we feel like it or not.  And one thing I have learned, sometimes the hard way, is that when we stick to the objective and put our flesh on hold, the rewards are far greater than if we ignore Jesus’ calling and give the flesh what it wants.  

As you read this and examine what your life’s objective has been this far in your life and what you want it to be for the remainder of your life, let me encourage you to choose a Christ-centered objective and not a self-centered objective.  Take your example from Jesus Christ himself who knew what his life’s objective was and followed through with it all the way to the end of his life.  And believe me, his flesh didn’t feel like going through what he went through.  Hebrews 12:2 says, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Did his flesh feel like being mocked and spit at?  Did his flesh feel like being slapped, lied about, and beaten?  Did his flesh feel like carrying a Roman cross down the streets of Jerusalem with multitudes of people screaming for his execution?  Did his flesh feel like being nailed to that cross and hanging for hours in agony while people laughed and pointed their fingers at him in disgust?  No.  His flesh didn’t feel like going through any of that.  

In fact, in the Garden of Gethsemane, before his capture, he pressed past great mental and physical anguish as satan tried diligently to get him to throw in the towel and not go through with it.  He could have you know?  He could have bailed out on the whole plan and went back to Heaven where it was comfortable for him.  But then you and I would be lost for eternity.  We would be left to pay for our own sins, which none of us could do.  Oh what a Saviour he is!  If he endured all that in order to achieve his life’s objective to keep me out of Hell, then it’s the least I can do to make my life’s objective be to honor him all the days of my life.  Don’t buy into satan’s lie.  By pursuing a Christ-centered life objective we are not giving up anything…we are gaining everything!

A Christ-centered life objective sets the tone for all of our other objectives in life.  Now then, this is where it gets real.  This is where God really starts to get all up in our business.  I dare you to read the rest of this Proclamation with an honest view of your life and how you conduct yourself in the following situations.  And I double dog dare you to ask God to fix your objectives if you find that they are not exactly to His liking.  And I promise I will do the same.

What is your objective in your marriage?  That question alone just caused several people to wad this Proclamation up and throw it in the trash can.  But for those of you brave enough to keep reading, what about it?  Do you have an objective for your marriage?  And if you do, is it Christ-centered?  The truth is that when it comes to our marriages most people don’t have a clue, or even give a thought to what their objective is.  They’re just married.  Coexisting.  Is marriage really just about sharing a house, sharing a bed, sharing bill paying, sharing the responsibility of raising the kids, etc?  All of these things are obviously part of marriage but are they the main objective?  If they are, then that is a very shallow and unfulfilling objective.  

What if our objective for our marriage was to please our spouse more than we please ourselves?  To give rather than get.  What if we lived Ephesians 5:21 and “submitted to one another in the fear of God?”  What if we appreciated the fact that our spouse only gets one life to live, just like we do, and they chose to spend it with us?  Think about it.  Do you really want your spouse to feel like they got the shaft when they married you?  Do you really want them to regret wasting their one and only life to be your door mat?  It is a tremendous honor that our spouse volunteered to spend their life with us and so we should make it our objective to honor them for it.  

These are all questions I have asked myself in regards to my own marriage.  My sweet wife and I have been married going on 19 years this December.  And though I can admit that I have not always been the best husband, I can say without exaggeration that she has been the perfect wife.  She has stood by me through some very dark times and has honored her vow to love me in sickness and health, richer and poorer, and for better or worse.  That means the world to me.  Therefore I established an objective for my contribution to our marriage with this prayer:  “Lord my prayer for Sweetie is that she will be completely happy.  And that for the rest of her life she will be content, at peace, full of joy, and completely fulfilled in her life.  And Lord I ask you to use me to do it.”  I encourage all of you, don’t just co-exist.  Don’t just be married.  Be married and love one another with a Christ-centered objective.

What is your objective for raising your children?  Is it to provide for their needs by buying them food, clothing, shoes, braces, glasses, etc?  Is it to taxi them to all their activities?  Is it to buy them iPods, iPads, iPhones, and every other toy their heart desires?  (Now for the record, I’m not opposed to electronic devices.  I just think it’s important to make sure they also have the opportunity to learn how to operate an iRake, iShovel, iWeedeater, iVacuum, iEtc.)    Obviously all of these things are part of raising children.  However, providing for their needs and giving them better than what we had as kids should not be our main objective in raising them.  What if Proverbs 22:6 was our Christ-centered objective and we “trained up our children in the way they should go so that when they are old they will not depart from it?”  What if their spiritual well-being was more important to us than their physical well-being?  What if we set Biblical standards in our homes that our kids know are not up for discussion?  What if our house was not just a place to live but a temple for God’s glory to abide in, so our children grow up in the presence of God?  I encourage you to give long and extensive thought to what I’m about to say.  You did not just create a human body when you had children.  The second you and your spouse conceived, an eternal soul was created, that will live eternally.  And when that child’s physical life is over, their soul will stand before God Almighty.  And as they stand in judgement to give an account for the life they lived, the only thing that will gain them entrance into Heaven, escaping Hell, is whether or not they know Jesus Christ and have accepted Him as their Saviour.  Knowing this, can you see how that giving our kids a good life cannot be the main objective?  Preparing our kids for eternity must be our main objective.  Don’t just raise kids.  Raise them with a Christ-centered objective.  

What is your objective in sports?  You might ask, “Why do you bring up sports?  That’s not a serious matter like marriage, children, eternity, etc.”  However, for something that is not a serious matter we sure take it way too serious.  Don’t get me wrong, I love sports.  I’ll tell you that right off the bat. (Pun intended)  I have played sports, watched sports, talked sports, and coached sports for years.  And I’m sad to admit that at times I have taken sports way too seriously.  Until I asked myself the question I’m going to ask you.  And keep in mind I’m not necessarily talking about sports on the national and collegiate level, although that applies to this question also.  I’m mostly talking about sports on the local level that our kids are involved in.  What is the main objective of sports?  Most people would say the objective of sports is to win.  But is it really?  Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to win.  And if a person is going to be involved in a sport then they should work hard at it and pull together with their team to try to win.  Winning gives us a sense of accomplishment for the hard work, determination, and dedication we put into exhausting practices and training.  However, winning can also give us a sense of pride, arrogance, and conceit that can cause us to think a little more highly of ourselves than we should.  That is why winning should not be the main objective.  So then what is the main objective of sports you ask?  How about good sportsmanship?  What if we focused more on teamwork, putting others ahead of ourselves, and building others up?  Not just our team but the other team as well.  What??!!!  I know, I know.  It’s a foreign thought to us but I’m just asking “what if?”  What if our kids were involved in sports to get exercise and not so we can relive our “glory days” through them?  Oh oh, and what about this?  What if our kids played sports FOR FUN!!!??  Can you imagine that?  Playing sports for enjoyment rather than status?  Who would have thought?  (The saddest part of it is the fact that the kids playing the sports seem to have the right objective.  It’s the parents in the bleachers who grow fangs, get blood shot eyes, tie a noose for the referee, and demand blood shed of the twelve year olds on the other team.  Sometimes I think that we as a society are one step away from bringing back the Gladiators who fight to the death for our viewing pleasure.)  But most importantly, what if the main objective was to honor Christ with our conduct?  Winning is such a shallow objective.  Not to mention the fact that it is fleeting and unpredictable.  Think about it.  If winning is the objective then only 50% of the players on the field/court can achieve it.  But if being the salt and light of the earth in order to honor Christ is our objective then 100% of the players on the field/court can achieve it.  Walking off the field/court still holding our integrity is much more important than walking off the field/court holding a trophy.  Trophies will tarnish, integrity will not.  Last year’s Super Bowl between the Patriots and the Seahawks was a great game to say the least.  There were a lot of spectacular plays that brought us to our feet with cheers of excitement.  But honestly I can’t remember half of them without the help of a SportsCenter highlight clip.  Although there is one image of the game that I remember very well.  It is when one of the Seahawks reached down and helped up a Patriot who had just gotten trucked.  He could have taunted him, stepped on him, or walked right past him but he chose to stop and help him up.  Integrity was more important to him than winning.  That makes him a winner in my book.  (Even if the coach did call that bonehead pass play on the five yard line that cost them the game.)  Don’t play sports just to win.  Play with a Christ-centered objective.

In closing I encourage all of us to view every aspect of our lives through the scope of this question.  Is your main objective on your job to just make enough cash to pay the bills or is it to honor Christ by being the most dependable, hardworking employee on the payroll?  Is your main objective for going to church just to put your time in so you can check off another item on your religious check list, or is it to come into the presence of Almighty God to worship him with all your heart alongside your brothers and sisters in Christ?  I could go on and on but unfortunately I have squeezed as much on to this paper as I can fit.  Don’t waste your life just living.  Live with a Christ-centered life objective.

 

 

 

If I Were God

There are few people, if any, when talking about those in leadership that say, “they are doing everything exactly the way i would do it.”  I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say that come to think of it.  It usually goes more like this, “If I were President I would do this...” or “if I were pastor I would do that...” or “If I were the boss I would set things up this way...” and even kids join in by saying, “When I have kids someday I won’t make them do this...”  As the old saying goes, “opinions are like belly buttons, everybody has one.”  Some of those opinions can be valuable to us and some of them are worthless.  I’ve had people express such ridiculous opinions to me before that left me thinking, “How does this person even get themselves dressed in the morning?”  But I digress...

Unfortunately our quickness of opinion is no different in our attitude towards God, the greatest leader of all.  The amazing God who put breath in our lungs must be broken hearted when we use that breath to express our disapproval of his decisions with comments like, “if I were God I wouldn’t allow sickness, death, poverty, famine, drought, evil, crime, etc.”  The fact is, it is easy for anyone to express their opinion of how they would handle things but very seldom do we see the whole picture and know all the details surrounding the situation.

In Isaiah 55:8-9 God encourages us to take off our homemade “god want-to-be” name tags and just trust him to be God when he said, “for my thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways...for as the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  

Paul tries to get us to quit trying to figure God out in Romans 11:33-34, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgments and his ways past finding out!  For who hath known the mind of The Lord?  Or who hath been his counsellor?”  God does not have a Board of Directors, or Presidential Cabinet, or panel of advisors to answer to and seek advice from.  He stands alone in his decision making and he is always right...period.

 

In Job 38-40 we are eves dropping on a conversation between God and Job.  Leading up to these chapters Job and his friends are having a discussion about why he is going through the terrible suffering he was experiencing in his life at that time.  In one day he goes from wealthy to broke.  In that same day he has to organize a mass funeral to bury all of his children who died at the same time.  On top of all that he is stricken with very painful boils from the top of his head to the soles of his feet.  His whole world came crashing down for no apparent reason at all.  Any of us would agree that all these bad things happening to a good person would be justifiable cause to question God.  However God didn’t see it that way.  From out of a whirlwind God spoke to Job and asked, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?”  Or in other words, “who are you to give me advice when you don’t know what you are talking about?”  And that is a fair question if you think about it.  How would we feel if a kindergartener tried to evaluate our job performance?  That would be the same equivalent as us trying to evaluate God on his decisions.   I was recently talking to a business man who is in his 50’s and has been successfully running his own business for many years.  He told me about an eighteen year old young man that he hired who one day out of the blue said, “if you don’t mind I would like to give you some financial advice.”  To which the business man replied, “Well that’s just what I need; financial advice from an eighteen year old kid that doesn’t know what he is talking about.”  Then he fired him.  True story.  That is the kind of offense God took to Job and his buddies evaluating his “job performance.”  The truth is God is not on our payroll.  The earth is his and he is just letting us live on it.  He owns it all and has been running the universe a lot longer that our few years of living.  

It’s interesting to note that God does not enter their conversation about why bad things happen to good people, nor does he offer a defense for why he was allowing the suffering in Job’s life.  He just cuts to the chase and declares his credentials as the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the Universe that doesn’t have to explain his actions to humans who have limited understanding and do not have the ability to see the whole picture.  I love God’s response in Job 38:3, “gird up thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee and answer thou me.”  In today’s language that basically means, “Put on your big boy britches and act like a man.  You have been questioning me, so now I want you to answer a few questions for me.”  Then God goes on to ask Job “where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?  What holds the earth in its place?  Who placed the limit for how far the waves of the ocean can come up on the land?   Job, have you considered how big the earth is?  Come on speak up if you know it all.  Who causes it to rain? Can you speak to the clouds to release its water upon the dry ground?  Does the lightning flash at your command?  Who provides food for the ravens and their babies?  Did you give the peacocks their pretty wings and the horse his strength?”  By the time God got done proving that he is more than capable of creating and running the Universe without any input from man, Job was feeling pretty small.  In Job 40:4 Job said, “I am vile, what shall I answer thee?  I will lay my hand upon my mouth.”  He is basically saying (and I know exactly how he felt because I have said this many times as well) “I’m sorry God, I’m such a goober.  I will shut up now.”  

The problem is that satan plays on our limited understanding to stir up a complaint in our heart towards God’s judgments to cause us to question him.  And if we allow that complaint to remain in our heart rather than trusting God for what we don’t understand, then it will always cause us to try to take over the role of God in our own lives.  That is why Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in Genesis 3.  It is why Abraham took matters into his own hands and had a baby with Hagar rather than waiting on God to fulfil his promise in Genesis 16.  And it is why Aaron made the golden calf when he thought God had dropped the ball in Exodus 32.  And the examples go on and on throughout the Bible and even unto today.  

So, let’s get real and break this “if I were God” idea down and see how well it would work out.  Let’s say I, being a flawed and ignorant human, were to make the bold statement, “if I were God I would...1) Do away with all sickness and death...2) Stop all tornadoes, hurricanes, and natural disasters...3) Eliminate poverty, famine, and drought...4) and cause all evil and crime to cease.”  Then I would rare back in my throne-like zero gravity lawn chair, throw my hands behind my head, and smile with pride for the way I just single handedly made the world a much better place.  That is until the real God firmly taps me on the noggin, like a father who is about to take his “too big for his britches” son down a notch or two, and replies, “Okay genius, so what would you do about freewill?  Would you force everyone to worship you like a bunch of robots who don’t have a choice?”  Uh oh.  That kind of throws a little kink in my divine plan.  What does freewill have to do with it you may ask?  Freewill is our God given right to make our own choices.  By giving us freewill God is saying, “I love you and I really want you to love me back and serve me willingly, but I won’t force you.  If you choose to use your freewill to reject me and serve yourself then you are free to do so.”  And that makes perfect sense if you think about it.  What would bless you more as a parent; your child giving you a hug because you forced them to or your child crawling up in your lap, giving you a hug, and saying “I love you daddy/mommy” all on their own freewill?  I think any of us would admit that we would take the sweet lovin from the heart any day over the forced, empty lip service.  Therefore, if I were God I would also allow freewill.

And therein lays the problem with my brilliant plan to do away with all the negative things in the world.  Because anytime freewill is given, there will be some people who use their freewill to honor and serve God and there will be some people who use their freewill to honor and serve themselves.  And any time people use freewill to serve themselves there will be unspeakable evil.  And it is that unspeakable evil that causes all the negatives in the world.  Now, knowing all that, watch how fast my “if I were God” plan unravels.  Since I have decided to allow freewill, therefore allowing evil, and since I have done away with poverty, famine, natural disasters, sickness, and death; I have trapped us all in a very evil world that we can never be delivered from.  Can you imagine never dying and being stuck in a world like this for eternity?   The truth is that the penalty of death for sin pronounced on every human since Adam and Eve is not just a punishment for disobeying God, it was a decision made by God as an act of mercy so that our pains here in this life will only be temporary.  

In short, be very thankful that I am not God.  And also be thankful that you don’t have to carry that responsibility.  No, we will not always understand why things happen the way they do and why God allows it.  And God never promised we would.  He only wants us to learn to “Be still and know that I am God...” Psalm 46:10.