Do Christians Try to Manipulate God?

August 23, 2012

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In his book Bono on Bono, the lead singer of the Irish rock band U2, shares the most culturally relevant presentations of the gospel I have heard. He does this without using religious words or catchphrases such as “washed in the blood.”

Bono explains the world has two main forces—grace and karma.

Karma, by definition, is getting what you deserve. If you do good, good things will happen. Similarly if you do wrong, you can expect a negative result.

Life and society tells us success comes through climbing the ladder. Hard work, achievement , and striving paves the road to fame and fortune.

This mentality roots itself in karma. If you work hard, you will succeed.

These thought patterns transfer to our Christian lives in very subtle ways if we are not careful.

The Christianized version says if you pray the right prayer or stay away from sin long enough, you can move the hand of God to get what you want.

We take the form of a magician, concocting a magic potion. A bit of faith, sprinkle in some prayer, and a pinch of fasting. Stir it all together, say the magic words, and “poof” – you get what you are hoping for.

The illustration above is a bit exaggerated, but there is truth in it. We engage in a spiritual form of manipulation, but the one being manipulated is God himself! Is it even possible for a Christian to manipulate God?

Grace, says Bono, plays by a different set of rules. Grace stands in opposition to karma.  magic

Grace is gaining what we do not deserve or have earned.

We would deserve justice or punishment.

Instead God pours out abundant blessings on us. This doesn’t make sense. It often seems too good to be true.

But God is not bound by the “rules” of life and society.

When we call God “righteous”, we say He is right in all He does.

In other words, if this is the way God chose to do it, who are we to argue!

Grace does not play by the rules of society. If man created Christianity, it would have involved climbing the ladder to God.

Thankfully, Christianity is God created. We don’t need to be Christian Hindus practicing some strange mix of these two philosophies.

Thankfully, God shows us grace rather than a list of rules.

Let us no longer attempt to manipulate God through good works and religious acts.

Let’s accept the gift, responding out of gratitude rather than with attempts to manipulate the God of the universe; thereby being like every other religion on the planet.

We don’t need to convince God of our goodness. He has communicated His goodness first.

Put away the magic book. The only formula for success is through trusting in a loving and faithful God.

What other “good works” do we perform in order to move the hand of God, attempting to get the desired result?


Portions of this post come from the first chapter of Death of the Modern Superhero: How Grace Breaks our Rules. You can download the entire first chapter for free HERE.

Better yet, you can buy the entire book in print form or for the Kindle, Death of the Modern Superhero:How Grace Breaks our Rules

You can help me spread the word about this book HERE.

 

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Chris

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God