God Is In Charge!
Isaiah 55:8-9: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways not my ways,"
declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts."
One of the great secrets of the universe the real secret of happiness is a secret
most Christians miss.
In order to show you this secret, I want to give you two biblical axioms.
In these statements you will find a whole world of freedom from anxiety, frustration, and alienation.
Be What You Are!
The first axiomatic statement is this:
Almost all frustration and anxiety come from a refusal to be what one is.
In other words, frustration and anxiety are the result of playing a part other than
the one you have been given.
Someone tells the story of a man who was out of work.
His unemployment compensation benefits had run out, and he was desperate.
He went to the zoo to ask for work, and the zoo keeper told him they didn't really have any work,
but he could make a few extra dollars by taking the place of the gorilla who had died the day before.
Ordinarily, the man would not have done it, but he really needed the money.
He accepted the job, put on the gorilla suit, and made his way to the gorilla cage.
It really wasn't a bad job.
All he had to do was to eat bananas and swing from a rope, and after a while he began to like the job.
But alas, all good things must come to an end.
One day his rope broke, and he fell over the fence into the lion's cage.
He started yelling for help, and the closer of the lion came to him, the louder he yelled.
Finally, the lion came right up next to him, nudged, and said,
"Buddy, will you shut up or we are both going to be out of a job."
Now the difference between some Christians and the man in the gorilla outfit is that
whereas he was forced into the his role, we aren't.
We choose a role for which we are not suited, and in that choice is the source
of much of our misery and frustration.
Have you ever seen Christians who seemed to be very pure and very spiritual -- and very miserable?
The problem with such Christians is that they were playing a role for which they were not suited.
Jesus said, "No one is good except God alone." (Mark 10:18)
Jesus was saying that when we pretend to be good and pure, we have just climbed into a gorilla suit.
And then, there are those Christians who feel that everything they say comes as if from Sinai.
They make all sorts of political and social and religious announcements as if God Himself
had given them a corner on truth.
They are very serious, and they are very miserable.
God says, "The heart is more deceitful than all else." (Jeremiah 17:9)
If that is true, then the person who believes and acts as if he or she had a corner on truth
(when only God has that corner) he should start wearing a gorilla costume.
We see countless examples of Christian men and women who play parts for which
they were not created and we see that their pride is so often a mark of modern Christianity,
in the anger we feel when our plans are crossed, or in the way we want the world
to revolve around our selfish desires.
Now I hope that we see that the source of much of our frustration and anxiety is our proclivity
toward being something we aren't.
The second biblical axioms is this -- man was created to glorify God.
Augustine's oft-quoted prayer is to the point:
"Thou hast created us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee."
Someone has said that every creature fulfills the purpose of its creation except man.
Have you ever heard of a dog with ulcers?
The reason a dog doesn't usually get ulcers is that a dog usually doesn't try to be anything but a dog.
Trees rarely cry because a tree never tries to be anything but a tree.
Apart from a few specially designed exceptions, fish never try to fly and birds don't try to swim.
All of creation glorifies God by being that for which it was created.
Man is the exception.
Man was created to glorify God, to be the one creature who would respond in love to a loving Creator.
The psalmist expressed the proper position of man:
"Whom have I in heaven but Thee?
And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
Paul said, "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.
To Him be the glory forever." (Romans 11:36)
Further, Paul said, "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do,
do all the glory of God."
(First Corinthians 10:31)
Christians are unhappy because they tried to play a role for which they were not created.
They were created to glorify God.
It is the desire to be God rather than to worship God that creates
an almost unbearable tension in the Christian.
An elderly pastor once made a good point:
"It is very hard to glorify God and yourself at the same time."
The bad news is that you are not God, and you will never be God.
We are created and sustained by God.
If God should decide to withdraw His sustaining power from us, we would dissipate into nothingness.
You and I aren't self-made.
Three implications flow from the bad news.
First, if you aren't God, you are not self-made.
We like to think that we are in control of our lives, such as the song, "I did it my way."
But, as a matter of fact, nobody does it his way.
Every life is controlled by a series of various unavoidable environmental and hereditary factors
over which we have no control.
You did not choose your parents.
You did not choose the place you were born.
You did not choose the culture in which you grew up.
While those factors do not totally explain what you are, they are far more important
than many of us imagine.
Every first year philosophy student has heard the illustration given by professors
to teach determinism: if a rock were thrown across the street and the rock should gain
self-consciousness, it would say to itself,
"I have decided to fly through the air like this, and I have decided to land
on the other side of the street."
But of course, the rock's path was determined before it achieved self-consciousness.
There is a sense in which we are like that rock.
We act as if we were free and self-made when, in fact, we are products of much that has gone on before.
One time a man told Lincoln, "I am self-made."
Lincoln replied, "I'm glad, that relieves the Lord of a tremendous responsibility."
The Bible teaches that above the environmental and hereditary factors of your life is a God
who creates and controls those factors.
"Know that the Lord Himself is God; it is He who has made us and not we ourselves."
"The One forming light and creating darkness causing well-being and creating calamity;
I am the Lord who does all these." (Isaiah 45:7)
"I" want to be in control of all that I am.
"I" don't like the idea of a God who is sovereign because that means I am not in control.
If I am not in control (and it is clear to anyone who thinks about it, that I am not),
then I have a choice in the way I deal with the bad news.
I can simply get angry because I'm not in control, or I can submit to a sovereign God.
The second implication that flows from the realization that you are not God is the realization
that you have no rights.
Everything is His, and everything He gives -- life, peace, joy, family -- is given by His grace.
There is a false belief that we have the right to everything good in the world,
but the Bible teaches that everything belongs to God, and when He gives it is only out
of His mercy and grace.
"Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down
from the Father of lights." (James 1:17)
In the ninth chapter of Romans, Paul discussed God's right to do whatever He pleases
with His creation and His creatures.
Then Paul deals with the objection to that by saying:
"You will say to me then, ' Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?"
On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God?
The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it?
Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel
for honorable use and another for common use?" (Romans 9:19-21)
If you aren't God, and cannot be God, then nothing is yours.
No matter what happens to you or for you, you cannot demand your rights.
You have no rights.
We have no rights.
God Doesn't Need You!
The third implication of the bad news is that God doesn't need us,
and we have a great desire to be needed.
A woman told her pastor after the death of her invalid sister that she didn't want to live.
The pastor asked her why, and she responded by saying, "Now nobody needs me."
That need is seen in the Christian's need to be needed by God, and the bad news is
that we aren't even needed by Him.
That bad news is devastating to our egos.
"What do you mean, God doesn't need me?" Many would say.
"I am a pastor (or a Sunday school teacher, and evangelist, a mother, a father ... Etc.),
and God's work simply could not go on without me."
How disheartening to discover that nothing would fail without us.
How disappointing to discover that God is perfectly capable of running His universe without us.
So, we need to say, "Thank you, God for using me."
Now I have been talking about the bad news.
Now let us hear the good news.
If you watch an old movie on television, you might realize that everybody who acted in that movie is dead.
Then it registers to us that in 50 years or so, most of us here will be dead.
I won't even leave a hole, and something about that thought offends me.
The world will be able to function without me -- horrible.
The world will go on.
Life will go on.
That is the bad news.
If God is in charge, and He is, then we aren't.
Now we'll come to know the good news when we learn to accept the bad news.
Because there is a sovereign God, we have only three choices:
We can ignore God.
We can fight God.
Or we can submit to God.
To ignore God is foolish.
To fight God is silly.
But to submit to God is exciting.
To submit to God is a wise course because there is no other game in town.
In the fourth Narnian book, The Silver Chair, by C.S. Lewis, a little girl named Jill enters
the imaginary kingdom of Narnia for the first time.
There she sees Aslan, the lion, the symbol of God, lying beside the stream of cool water.
Jill is very thirsty because she has been crying, and, the lion asks her if she is thirsty.
"I'm dying of thirst," said Jill.
"Then drank," said the Lion.
"May I could I would you mind going away while I do?" Said Jill.
The lion answers this only by a look and a very low growl.
And as Jill gazed at its bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain
to move aside for her convenience.
The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.
"Will you promise not to do anything to me, if I do,?" Said Jill.
"I make no promise," said the Lion.
Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.
"Do you eat girls?" She said.
"I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors,
cities and realms," said the Lion.
It didn't say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry.
It just said it.
"I dare not come and drink," said Jill.
"Then you will die of thirst," said the Lion.
"Oh dear!" Said Jill, coming another step nearer,
"I suppose I must go and look for another stream then."
"There is no other stream," said the Lion.
The good news is that we are invited to come and drink at the only stream which is the water of life.
Revelation 22:17: "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come.
And let him that heareth say, Come.
And let him that is athirst come.
And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
To the woman at the well, Jesus said:
John 4:13-14: Jesus answered and said unto her,
Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst;
but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. "
John 14:6: "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life:
no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
Jesus is the only way of salvation.
Acts 4:12: "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven
given among men, whereby we must be saved.'"
Jesus is the water that brings life to the soul.
By drinking the living water one can live and never thirst again.
Jesus is that Living Water.
Revelation 22:17: "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come.
And let him that heareth say, Come.
And let him that is athirst come.
And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."
There is no other stream -- Jesus is the only way!
Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White