Issues of Life

The Last Man Standing

If God was a comedian, He would be the last man standing!  He has such an amazing sense of humour, which is clearly evident in nature.  Sometimes, I can’t help laughing at what the Lord has done, or at myself when I wake up to the realisation that I’ve been trying to outsmart God, or ‘get one over’ on Him.  But these games we play with God are more dangerous than funny…

Consider Jonah, who thought he could run away from God.  That almost cost him his life!  He probably thought he knew better than God; that the people of Nineveh were beyond redemption, so why bother preaching to them?  I also think that at the back of his mind, He knew God wanted to forgive them, but that was not Jonah’s standard of justice…so he rebelled against God.  I think it is amazing that God went to such great lengths, even almost destroying a ship load of ‘innocent’ people, just to get Jonah to preach to an unworthy city, so that they could repent and be forgiven!  We should never underestimate what the Lord will do to redeem a soul.

But many of us are like Jonah.  In many ways, we live our lives as though we are smarter than God.  We have our own sense of justice, and buck at the idea of forgiving someone seven times, let alone seventy times seven, as Jesus commanded (Matt 18: 21-22).  We don’t have the stamina for this enduring, unconditional love God keeps going on about.  Sometimes, ‘enough is ENOUGH’!  We think our sins are small and forgivable, but expect that the same thing observed in someone else should be visited with God’s immediate damnation (Luke 9:54)!  Isn’t it fortunate that we are not the ultimate judge on who will make it to Heaven?  As Jesus said, “the first shall be last, and the last, first” (Matt 20:16).

That really is a bizzare statement!  It goes against our sense of justice and order.  How can someone who lives their whole life in sin, and repents on their deathbed get the same reward as a martyr, who devoted their life to preaching the gospel in hostile nations?  How did it happen that the one who persecuted the early Christians and organised their executions, became the most referenced Apostle of them all?  Paul answers it by saying that God uses the foolish things in the world to dumbfound the wise (1 Cor 1:27).  Even still, the most foolish thing God can conceive, is wiser than any earthly wisdom (1 Cor 1:25)!  God evades our understanding.  We can never figure Him out and put Him in a box.  But we still try!

Humans, as intellectual beings – being made in the image of God – like to ‘figure’ things out, so that we can master those subjects.  But God is not among the subjects that can be ‘figured’ out!  He cannot be mastered, while He remains the Master.  Some people say the Bible has the answer to every conceivable human challenge, but I beg to differ.  If that was the case, then we do not need the Holy Spirit, or a relationship with God…we can just study the Bible and reference it and prescribe solutions accordingly.  It is true that God opens our eyes to new wisdom in the Bible, or even reminds us of old, but we should never limit God by thinking that He can’t speak any word apart from what is already written.  That is why the Pharisees, who were the theologians of their time, accused Jesus of heresy and blaspheme.  The Spirit of God is not limited, but must always be carefully discerned (1 John 4:1).  Especially as the Bible is continually being watered down with newer translations, we need to seek and hold fast to the Holy Spirit.  We must not replace this direct link with anything or anyone!

God wants us to keep coming back for more of His wisdom and direction.  This is what living by faith is all about.  Yesterday’s understanding is never enough.  When we think we have it all figured out, or we’ve got a working formula on how to understand/manipulate God, we are walking along a cliff’s edge.  God’s love for us is amazing, and His grace is beyond comprehension, but we shouldn’t abuse the liberty He gives.  He wants us to draw near to Him, to reason with Him, to sit at His feet and learn from Him, and always come back for more of Him – and there is so much more!  This won’t happen if we approach God like an old textbook.  What is the thing God is trying to get you to see or do that you are resisting?  If you put Him to the test by proving stubborn or wiser, He will show you that in all things, He will be the last Man standing!

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