One afternoon I was sitting at a Chick-fil-A where the table was filled with papers, books and my Bible. This is not an unusual environment for me–I frequently use Chick-fil-A as one of my regional offices. What was unusual on that day was this: A man walked by me and as he passed, I heard him say, “God doesn’t work.” Then, he sat down at the booth facing me.
I processed what he said for a moment, then asked him in a non-Robert DeNiro sort-of-way, “Were you talking to me?”
He replied, “Yeah, I guess I am.”
So I followed up. “Obviously, you’ve come to some conclusion about a non-working God. Tell me your journey of how you came to that conclusion.”
I listened as this man shared his journey. It wasn’t all that unusual. I’ve heard versions of the same story many times. As the story typically goes, the person was at one point in life a follower of Jesus, but when faced with difficult circumstances, the person chose to follow their own way, rather than God’s way, and life didn’t turn out as planned. Because God didn’t step in and fix things (the way this person wished), the natural conclusion is that God doesn’t work.
People love to imagine God as a genie, simply waiting for us to rub the lamp so that He can appear and grant our wishes.
I don’t imagine God is waiting to hear the marketing plans we have for our lives so he can determine whether He’s going to invest in us (and “fix us”). I think God is waiting for us to forfeit our selfish agendas and simply follow Jesus.
I know so many people who stop following Jesus’ teachings and direction and then act surprised when life dumps them off in a dead-end…where they mutter, “God doesn’t work.”
What G.K. Chesterton wrote one hundred years ago is still true today: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult, and left untried.”
On the days we choose God’s agenda for our lives rather than our own… we’ll most likely discover God is working. He’s always at work whether we recognize it or not.
Question: what do you say/do/teach to help people understand God isn’t a genie? Thoughts?