Thursday, October 21, 2010

Amos 3:6, Is It the Responsibility of a Sovereign God to Make Us Happy?

"Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it?"

Portions like this one are why ignorance of the Old Testament is almost a sign of superiority amongst American Evangelicals. Consider that popular song: "At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light, and the burden of my heart rolled away, it was there by faith I received my sight, and now I am happy all the day!" Charismatics, especially the Prosperity Gospel peddlars, are well-known for claiming that illnesses are "lies from Satan!" But is it biblical to expect to be "happy all the day" or free from illness, simply because one knows Jesus?

Consider another verse, Isaiah 45:7, "I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things." Speaking of Himself, God certainly makes no claims of being the bringer of only sweetness and light.

Or what of the testimony of Job? In 2:10, he says, "But he said to her, 'You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?' In all this Job did not sin with his lips." And the text even makes explicit that it was no sin for him to say this!

God does indeed bring suffering into the lives of even the strongest Christians. the reasons are many. It may be to expose hidden sin or overblown pride (consider Paul's thorn in the flesh, (II Corinthians 12:7-10). Suffering also helps us to loosen our grasp on material things in this life and to focus on the life to come. But the issue is his sovereignty: He does, because He can. It is our place to receive His purposes in our lives. To put it simply: we must learn more and more that He is God and we are not!

The reason American evangelicals avoid passages such as these is that evangelism and worship in most churches have changed God from our sovereign king to Santa Claus, lifestyle guru, or the candyman. Do you remember the Candyman in "Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang"? He was a wicked man who enslaved children with promises of sweets from a pretty wagon. However, when the children responded to his charms, the candy wagon was suddenly revealed as a cage, as the children were carted away to enslavement. I think that provides an excellent analogy for Satan in the deceptions of American popular evangelicalism!

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