Optional page text here. The Beast's Lair: The Assumption of Equality

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Assumption of Equality

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to preach during a student led worship service at Graefenburg. I spoke from 2 Kings 1:1-16. It is a powerful story of King Ahaziah and Elijah. The king sustains some serious injuries and Elijah predicts death. When Ahaziah sends his captain to inquire more on the matter, the captain, presumably following the direct order of the king, commands Elijah to come down from his hill and return to the king. Elijah calls fire from heaven to consume the captain and his men. This scenario is repeated, except interestingly enough, the second time a different captain orders Elijah to come down quickly. He suffers the same consequence.

A majority of my message addressed the tendency of Christians to assume equality, or worse yet, superiority to God. When we approach God, are we doing so in the way a king might command a subordinate? Are we really fully aware of how big, how great, how transcendent our God is? Are we really aware of our nothingness before Him? Isaiah says it like this in chapter 40, "All the people are as nothing before Him" and "It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers." It is with tragic consequences that a believer dare to inquire on the Lord with anything but a humble heart and mind. At the moment we replace humbleness with a distorted sense of expectancy that God will act and deliver in ways that fit our "grasshopper" minds, that becomes a moment of crisis when we will recognize our foolishness or begin our journey to a weakened and ultimately dead faith.

One of the problematic issues for King Ahaziah was his daily routine. The King was used to treating people as inferior. After all, he was the king. It was only natural for the King to approach God the same way. This is another, and perhaps the central reason why Jesus said, "the second commandment is like the first. Love your neighbor as yourself." It is more than just a visionary concept of a world in peace. It is the instilling in ourselves the habit of putting others first, treating others with a humble heart, and thus when we turn to God, our already natural tendency is to do the same. God is, of course, greater than our neighbor, but the attitude of the heart is crucial.

Finally, in the end, King Ahaziah does the right thing. He humbles himself through the captain and pleads with Elijah to come down from the hill. Elijah this time does in fact come down. But something very interesting happens. Elijah still prophecies the king's death. Nothing changed.

Here is where we find ourselves confused. The king would surely have thought that since he did things the "right" way and approached God the way he should have, God would have spared his life. The concept is this: If I do things God's way, things will go my way. I can think of no other philosophy to be more damaging. We can do things God's way and still be broken down. We can do things God's way and still experience heartache, sickness, pain, and death. Yes there are great rewards for living a pleasing life before God, and thankfully He sometimes allows His way to be our way. If my personal faith was grounded on things "working" in the way I think is fair and right, then my personal faith would have been lost long ago. My faith, instead, is placed in a God who knows better than I. A God who cannot tire or whose plans cannot go astray. I love the words of Isaiah 14:27, "For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?"

Thank God that He has purposed. He knows what is good and how all things will ultimately be used (Romans 8:28). He is worthy of our praise and our adoration. We must not assume equality. We dare not.


Blogger Bennett Willis said...

Nicely said and so true. We tend to approach ministries based on "gifts" with the expectation that what we ask for will happen--and it may not. This is a good reminder that we are cautioned along this line.

Bennett Willis

July 14, 2007 4:11 PM  

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