Stepping on God's Toes
Stepping on God’s Toes?
By Krystal Dunlap
I have been warned against stepping on God’s toes. Specifically the reference is to attributing what happens in life directly to Him. Saying that the Father answered a particular prayer or provided a specific opportunity is seen as dangerous, if not directly wrong. As one familiar with the prevalent belief in modern day human-performed miracles, I can sympathize. It may be scary to say that God cares for us unless it be in a passive, ethereal, non-definitive way.
Allow me a moment to step aside to share personal history. After graduating, I was hired as a kindergarten aide where I became good friends with teacher of the class. When announced that she was leaving her position, I eagerly applied and asked that she provide recommendation for me to administration. Unfortunately I found after not receiving the job that she had suggested that they not hire me.
Another opportunity arose at a cyber school which I took. Soon, I developed a friendship with a supervisor who worked in an entirely different department than me. When a position opened on his team, he asked me if my husband, who was quite under employed, would take it. Since then, these positions have been blessings beyond words. One is that I can remain employed despite my health because I work from home. I never could have kept that classroom job that passed me by.
To me, this timeline illustrates the verse, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good” (Rom. 8:28). The painful behavior of the teacher, the unexpected opportunity at a cyber school, and the unlikely friendship with a supervisor led to the abundant life I have. I cannot help but see His involvement that led to my “good.”
Please do not misunderstand me. I do not deny that “time and chance happen” (Ecc. 9:11). I also do not deny that mankind has free will that leads to consequences. But I do sincerely believe that more than vagaries direct our lives. Specifically, God miraculously intervenes on behalf of His own. Though I may not directly see it, the Lord does use His infinite power to bless His beloved (Matt.6:31-33). This spiritual care is just as sure to me as the miracles in scripture.
The book of Esther is proof of this. Nowhere in that book is God mentioned. However, one cannot read it without seeing His hand behind the scenes. I admit that I cannot point directly to my Bible, proclaiming, “Look! God made Esther pretty.” However, I feel confident in saying that He used His power over all to save the Jews. Mordecai noted to Esther, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). The incredible series of events led to Israel’s salvation. What greater purpose does the book serve than to see that God was behind it?
Please do not freak out. I see the pitfalls in specifically labeling exact moments in one’s life, proclaiming, “Look! God did that.” That is not my suggestion. Instead, I ask that we consider that looking for His intervention in our lives and seeing it there is not wrong. Much as we do when reading Esther, we might see His miraculous hand. Thus, we can find comfort that the Father acts on our behalf, answering prayer and keeping His promises.
The Christian Life is a Distinct Manner of Living
By Paul R. Blake
We live in a time when the gospel seems to be out of season; that is, few people are interested in salvation and most people are interested in living life as they please, not as pleases the Lord. In times like this, our most powerful tool of creating interest in our religiously indifferent neighbors is a godly example, the kind of example that stands out when compared to the worldly and materialistic. It is the kind of example that not only stands out, but also is attractive because it is joyfully rooted in moral truth and in peaceful, contented behavior.
The true gospel of Jesus Christ creates a distinct manner of life in the obedient believer. He becomes different from the world as his life is transformed by the power of the word (Rom. 12:2). In fact, his manner of living becomes a public declaration of the glory of God and a testimony to His wisdom (Matt. 5:16). A life guided by the perfect will of God for man is quickly noticed by the worldly (1 Pet. 4:1-4), providing the Christian with opportunities to speak of his faith to others (3:15).
However, what opportunities are generated by the Christian who allows his example to conform to that of the worldly? If there is not difference between our example and the lives of sinners, how will we lead others to Christ?
What do you think? An agnostic, a lapsed Catholic, and a member of the Lord’s Church are sitting in a restaurant. All three order an alcoholic beverage with their meals. How can an indifferent neighbor sitting at a nearby table determine which person is a Christian? He cannot. The professed disciple of the Lord has not generated an opportunity to speak to his indifferent neighbor by means of a distinct example.
What do you think? An orthodox Jew, a Presbyterian, and a member of a local church of Christ are standing in line at a convenience store; all three purchase lottery tickets. How can the indifferent neighbor who is in line behind them figure out which one is the Christian? He cannot. No opportunity to speak to him of the faith has been created.
What do you think? An unbeliever, a Methodist, and a professed Christian are members of a high school cheerleading squad. They are all wearing those abbreviated uniforms that honest disciples of the Lord can only describe as immodest. A number of fans in the bleachers are indifferent neighbors. How many of them looked at the professed Christian and thought, “that half-dressed cheerleader is somehow different from the others. My curiosity is piqued. I plan to ask her about her faith.”?
The apostle Peter mandates that Christians conduct themselves in an honorable manner in the presence of the lost to the end that eventually the unsaved will come to recognize, by means of the good works of disciples, both that God is and that He has spoken (1Peter 2:12). What message is presented to the world when professed members of the Lord’s church cozy up close to the line of worldliness in order to be socially accepted by sinners? The cause of Christ loses when Christians are too embarrassed to live the distinct lifestyle outlined in God’s word. Furthermore, using verbal gymnastics to redefine worldly conduct and re-designate it as honorable does not make it so.