God the Great Genie

Posted on Mar 7, 2016 in Paul Sommer's Blog

God the Great Genie

God the Great Genie
By Paul Sommer

As someone that has been involved in ministry for the last 16 years (11 of those as a pastor), I have noticed certain trends and reoccurring conversations with believers and/or those that attend churches. One of these trends is the overwhelming desire for people to receive relevant application, often wanting the pastor or teacher to speak to their current struggles/problems in life. While this may not seem to be an issue at first to many reading this, I would like to submit why this trend has hurt the body of Christ and where I believe this has come from.

While it is true that God loves us and wants to do great things for His children, His first desire is for us to be holy (set apart) to Him as Peter states in 1 Peter 1:16, quoting Leviticus 19:2. We need to first seek what it is that God would want and then see how application is derived from that. The key to grasping this concept is we are His children, not children without a Father or without directions on how to follow our Father, this being His Word of course. In other words, God’s desire is to see you become holy for Him and His purposes, which means that it is not ultimately about your personal application. Not to mention, to view the teachings of God through an individualistic lens, is to create a gospel message that the biblical authors would not have understood. The world of the bible is about community within the Kingdom of God, not individualism.

I submit to you that this trend in our churches goes back to Genesis 3 and the fall of man (Romans 3:10-18). It also is fueled by our current individualistic culture. Just type in ‘self’ in a search engine and you will get millions of hits. Wasn’t the word of the year in 2013 and 2014 (depending upon who’s poll you read), ‘selfie?’ This is not to say that everyone is selfish and there is no community or family unity, but this is truly a huge reality in our culture and in our church culture.

The polls continue to tell us that people want relevance and excitement when they go to church, so they can leave feeling good about themselves. Adam and Eve had that same desire, as they saw that the tree would give them instant pleasure, or we could label this as selfishness. It was not about what God told them to do, but what they desired for themselves.

Let’s return to modern day and the idea that we want the pastor to meet our needs. So many people want the pastor to preach these common themes:

  • 7 ways to build a stronger marriage
  • 5 ways to raise Godly children
  • 4 ways to know you are in the will of God
  • 3 ways to break that bad habit

While none of these are necessarily wrong, we are all too familiar with the quick fix sermon series.

You walk into church that week and you are struggling tremendously in your marriage and you walk in and find out that the pastor is still going through the book of Exodus? This week it is about the details of building the temple and you decide to leave because you think that has nothing to do with how God can fix your spouse so you will be happier.

What if the idea of meeting at church was not about ‘you’ first, but about God? In this case, it is about the Tabernacle where God dwells and you are also called the ‘temple of the Spirit of God.’ What if God does not want to fix your spouse, but instead wants to show you how He wants to be near you and to make you holy? God reveals Himself every time we seek His truth in His Word and we worship Him in response to every amazing thing He has done for His body, including sending His Son to die for all those that believed in Him and walk in His covenant. This, in turn, makes you worship God and take the focus off of your personal issues, and your selfishness to change your spouse. What if God wanted to be near you (tabernacling with us as Yeshua did when He came), to change you, so that you will change and see how God can do great things through you in your marriage and in the lives of others that are struggling as well, ultimately honoring God and honoring the life He has called you to.

The lessons from our churches should always be to bring praise and honor to our King first, submitting ourselves to His greater calling, and then He will allow us to see the love that He will pour upon us and others. Again, it is about God, the body, and we are part of that body. When our priorities are God’s priorities, the desire will be to worship and honor Him each week, knowing that through this He will ultimately meet our needs. It is the natural outpouring of blessings that we receive as His children.

Take a moment to search your heart to see if this is you right now. Pray that God will instill a desire to seek Him in His word and prayer like never before. May we not make God out to be the “quick fix” genie. If you have children, do they change immediately or does it take time? Maybe the solution to your struggles will not come as quickly or in the manner in which you envision they should. Give God that time, wait patiently and watch great things happen. May we wake up each day and may we go to church each week praising and honoring Him and then seeing the floodgates open into those areas in which we know a perfect Father will see and answer. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you,” Matthew 6:33.

 

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