What a shocking thought! Who are we to tame God? Any God-fearing human would not dare say such a thing, yet some of us are busy at it. We have expectations that form boundaries for God to dwell in; whenever we perceive Him to step out of these boundaries, we feel a need to push Him back in; we try to manage God, keep Him predictable and tame.
Surprisingly, even believers in Jesus Christ engage in such strategies. They are willing to modify their perception of God to advance a political or social issue. Conflict usually does one of two things in a person; it draws people closer to God or pushes them away. It has been my experience that those who move away eventually choose a tame god that better fits their perception and understanding. The Bible calls this idolatry.
It is crucial to discern how our culture attempts to manage God and how these tactics show up in society. 2020 has been a year full of global turmoil, and it has forced us to grapple with a pandemic, racial injustice, questions about patriotism, capitalism, socialism, and environmental activism, to name a few. Each camp spins a god to fit their party, champion their cause, and condemn those who disagree. It is a way to build consensus and then together say to God, “This is how we see it, and this is how it should be.”
But what does God think about our attempts to manage Him, and how does He respond?
The disciples tried to manage Jesus, and the Gospels record how He responded. On one occasion, Peter exhorted Jesus to give up the idea of the cross. Jesus replied, “Get away from me, Satan!” [NLT] Judas Iscariot also tried to set Jesus straight about the expensive perfume that Mary poured out on His feet, an attempt that earned him a firm rebuke. Throughout Scripture, it is clear that God is not looking for our opinion or counsel. He is immutable.
Our desire to tame God leaves us vulnerable to becoming unfruitful and unproductive in our knowledge of Him. It also causes division and leads to alienating whole segments of society. When faced with conflict, such a stance extends the time we spend in denial of what God has allowed, causing us to argue with Him and often bargain as well, to try to find acceptable ways out of the situation. Instead of embracing the pain, we go shopping for a point of view that promises our desired outcome.
In the wake of 2020, the conflicts and the disasters it has brought, let us take some time to let reality sink in. In our time of suffering, let us admit, “We are afflicted.” Let us turn to God and listen. My prayer is that He will grant us a knowledge of the truth, leading us to repentance.
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