Friday, October 30, 2009

Is God asleep in the cockpit?

Is God asleep in the cockpit? Sometimes it seems that way when we suffer, or see sin go unpunished and natural disasters claim lives. But is God aloof and uncaring? Is He asleep?

Jesus’ disciples said to Him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing? (Mark 4:38) while he slept in their boat. A boat which was filling with water from the crashing waves. But he calmly got up and rebuked the wind and the raging sea and all was still, like glass. The response? “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him? (Mark 4:41)”

So, in a sense, yes. He is asleep when we go through rough waters. Yet He is so sovereign over the events of history (to the minutest detail) that nothing happens apart from His intimate knowledge and providence. So to us He appears to be asleep ... clueless. But unlike the two pilots who played on their laptops while flying 150 miles past their desination, the Lord Jesus Christ is indeed holding all things together (Col 1:17). But it is no effort for Him to do so and this lack of effort can easily be misunderstood by weak-faithed creatures like us.

So Christ provides for the safety of His elect. What about food? In America it is hard to comprehend what it is like to go hungry, to wonder where the next meal will come from. Every American is richer than most everyone else in the world. But still we worry about our finances. Should we? Is Christ asleep or indifferent?

Mark paints a picture of Christ that is larger than life. He is actively going about healing lepers (Mark 1:40-45) and the blind (Mark 8:22-25) and the deaf (Mark 7:31-37) and even the dead (Mark 5:35-42). He walks on water (Mark 6:45-52) and casts out powerful demons (Mark 5:1-13) and multiplies food to feed the five thousand (Mark 6:39-44) and later, the four thousand (Mark 8:6-9). The word ‘immediately’ is all over the place in this real life action drama!

But Mark takes time to record the teaching that complements all these miracles. Jesus is alive and to be trusted. He has conquered sin and death and therefore Christians can trust Him to provide. Jesus Himself gives the answer to those who worry about their finances, and gets to the heart of that worry. It is a lack of faith and a wrong focus.
"Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" They said to him, "Twelve." 20"And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" And they said to him, "Seven." 21And he said to them, "Do you not yet understand? (Mark 8:17-21)”
Matthew 6:25-34 is perhaps the most famous passage about not worrying and is a great one to read when we find ourselves worrying about finances. But the point I want to make is that before we can stop worrying, we need to study the Person and the works of Christ so that we can fully understand why it is we’re not to worry.

Only when we read about Jesus in the Gospels, and His constant provision for His disciples and powerful display over Creation. Only when we have this fresh in our minds, can we fully trust the One who has done all these things, and therefore be encouraged by Matthew 6 and not worry about our life and our finances.

In fact, we will not only find relief from our anxiety about money and safety, but we’ll find ourselves taking up our cross in ways we never thought possible! Peter didn’t understand when Jesus told the disciples that He would be killed on the cross. He tried to rebuke the Master for talking like that. His problem was a wrong focus.

“Get behind me, Satain!” Jesus said to the one who had just confessed Him as the Christ in a most profound way (Mark 8:29-30). The answer to our lack of faith? “For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man. (Mark 8:34)”

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