Now that I am older I do not hear it so much but when I was young I used to hear it a lot: "If I was God I would..." and often this emanated from someone who was so angered by some senseless act or terrible atrocity that the person wanted to be like God who can enact swift and horrible retribution. Truth be told I am guilty of using those words too, but as I matured I came to understand the near-blasphemy of those words.
Those words were underpinned, consciously or otherwise, by a searing condemnation of Almighty God since they were saying; "God what is the matter with you, can't you see what is happening here? Don't you care that this monstrous evil is happening in your world and will continue unabated except you do something? You should reach for the big stick and show them who is boss. Why aren't you taking action?"
The problem here is that at times some of us become so conceited and arrogant and filled with ourselves that we believe we are qualified to give God advice.
We speak without understanding, we pontificate without knowledge and yet we feel we are the very epitome of intellectual and spiritual enlightenment. This is our real problem; we think we know when every piece of available evidence screams to the contrary. Here I take refuge in a conversation that took place a long time ago when someone thought he knew more than Almighty God.
Here are the relevant verses:
"Then the LORD spoke to Job from a whirlwind and said, "Who is this ignorant person saying these foolish things? Prepare yourself for an attack! Get ready to answer the questions I will ask you. "Where were you when I made the earth? If you are so smart, answer me. And who decided how big the earth should be? Who measured it with a measuring line? What is the earth resting on? Who put the first stone in its place when the morning stars sang together and the angels shouted with joy? "Who closed the flood gates as the sea gushed from the womb? Who covered it with clouds and wrapped it in darkness? I set the limits for the sea and put it behind locked gates. I said to the sea, 'You can come this far, but no farther. This is where your proud waves will stop." (Job 38:1-11 ERV)
Job was put on the spot, taken to task for what he said and implied and God was not letting up for he went on like this:
"Then the LORD said to Job, "You wanted to argue with God All-Powerful. You wanted to correct me and prove that I was wrong. So give me your answer!" (Job 40:1-2 ERV)
Job was a man of integrity and wisdom and was sufficiently prudent to acknowledge his foolishness:
"Then Job answered the LORD: "I am not worthy to speak! What can I say to you. I cannot answer you! I will put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I will not speak again. I spoke twice, but I will not say anything more."
(Job 40:3-5 ERV)
Here is a compelling and seminal lesson for all those who think they know better than Almighty God.
Job acknowledged: I am not worthy...I will put my hand over my mouth...I will not speak again...I will not say anything more. When we become so puffed up with our own self-importance and self-worth then we really need to remember who we are dealing with, "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10)
All of the above thoughts came rocketing through my mind when I read an article in a national newspaper with the headline, "Why I ditched God for good" and the lady went on to trot out such simplistic gibberish that I wonder what would be her thoughts when she becomes an adult, for surely this was juvenile mush.
The lady claimed that the only thing that matter to her, now that she has ditched God and become an atheist, is kindness. This is what I mean by puerile mush.
There are many vile accusations made against the church but few people alive, beyond the age of nine years would dare accuse the church, or people of faith, as being unkind and uncaring.
There is no organization on earth that has a reputation for compassion like the church; absolutely none.
The members of the church are called Christians because they are like Christ and Jesus Christ, whose life we imitate, is the most compassionate person ever to walk on this earth. Over and over the Bible tells us that Jesus was, "moved with compassion..." and this was with regards to widows, the poor, the main and the halt, to the hungry and everyone who was suffering and undergoing hardships of all sorts.
Anyone with an elementary understanding of the Scriptures knows that for the first time in the history of humanity a class of people was created to cater for the needs of widows and the poor. This class of people is called "Deacons" and came into being in the first church under the directions of the Apostles.
Here is how the Bible described its origins:
"More and more people were becoming followers of Jesus. But during this same time, the Greek-speaking followers began to complain against the other Jewish followers. They said that their widows were not getting their share of what the followers received every day. The twelve apostles called the whole group of followers together. The apostles said to them, "It would not be right for us to give up our work of teaching God's word in order to be in charge of getting food to people. So, brothers and sisters, choose seven of your men who have a good reputation. They must be full of wisdom and the Spirit. We will give them this work to do. Then we can use all our time to pray and to teach the word of God." The whole group liked the idea. So they chose these seven men: Stephen (a man with great faith and full of the Holy Spirit), Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus (a man from Antioch who had become a Jew). Then they put these men before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them." (Acts 6:1-6 ERV)
Today, nearly every church in Christendom has a policy of catering to the needs of people and many of them searching out people in the community who are impoverished and sick or neglected and assist them. The world knows of the humanitarian activities of Christian organisations like the Red Cross and the Salvation Army but wherever the cross is attached or associated with a building in the community there you will find caring, compassionate, self-effacing people.
For anyone to suggest that he or she has to ditch God and go elsewhere to find kindness and compassion is in truth the state of a lost soul in a state of spiritual and intellectual darkness.
People reneging on God is nothing new; since people backsliding from their faith is a common occurrence and many souls languish in a state of apostasy; and nearly all such persons were neither fully committed to God nor obedient to the sacred ordinances of conversion, baptism and consecration in accordance with God's Holy Word.
One of the most debilitating problems with people everywhere, especially some who call themselves believers, is that they approach God on the basis of an inverted relationship. Some people's concept of God is so lopsided that they build error on top of the error until the erroneous edifice topples over.
Some people think God is like a supermarket where one can go and access goodie after goodie on command and even walk away without paying. Others think that God has to do whatever they want, and if he does not then he is not my God.
All of this constitutes an inverted relationship and one that will bring great unhappiness, lots of frustration and eventually disillusionment and spiritual death and all because we treat God as if HE is OUR servant. This is appalling by any measure and only the spiritually blind or wilfully disobedient will fail to acknowledge that this is so.
Will God do things that displease us? Absolutely.
Does God appear to be sympathetic to the wrong people? Yes.
Does God seem detached and unconcerned at times? You better believe it.
All of these things we will encounter from time to time but what we must never do is to criticise God; for to do so shows clearly that we are still clueless and spiritual juveniles. When we are disappointed, devastated, hurting and has a zillion complaints we will do well to remember, "The LORD is your Protector. The LORD stands by your side, shading and protecting you. The sun cannot harm you during the day, and the moon cannot harm you at night. The LORD will protect you from every danger. He will protect your soul. The LORD will protect you as you come and go, both now and forever!" (Psalm 121:5-8 ERV)
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Dr. Henderson Ward received his Doctor of Divinity in theology, with distinction, from Masters International School of Divinity, USA, where he is currently a post-doctoral fellow. Dr. Ward's career involved pastoring, evangelism, and teaching. Copyright 2013
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