God of First Chances
“Don’t worry, Christian, God is god of second chances.”
I’ve never shied away from phrases and statements that others would see as controversial. I also have not turned away from taking statements that church sees as slam dunk theology and review them harshly.
I do not like “easy theology.”
Just because a pastor or celebrity or politician says something, it doesn’t mean that I need to simply accept it.
The Bible is clear about it, we need to test everything to Scripture.
1 John 4:1 – Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Unfortunately, it is very easy to say to someone who has screwed up, “Don’t worry, we all sin. But God gives us a chance to make it right. Oh, and if you screw up again, He will give you yet another chance. You have unlimited chances, Christian.”
But is this really true?
We love to think of God as all-loving and fair according to OUR standards of those words. We think of the coach of the little kid coach-pitch baseball team. The coach throws the first ball in there and the kid swings and misses. He throws it in there again. Another miss. A third time, yet another miss. By this time in baseball, the batter would be out and we would move on to the next ball. But the coach has bucket filled with baseballs that he is going to throw at this kid. After the 15th ball crosses the plate, the coach then runs up to the batter’s box and sets up a ball tee and instructs the kid on how to hit it.
We think of God as that coach. We miss the mark and God gives us another chance. Miss again? Don’t worry, here is another ball crossing the plate. And if you happen to go through all the balls crossing the plate, don’t worry, God will make it easier for us to hit the mark by setting up a ball tee.
But is this REALLY what Christ came to die for? Is THAT the Good News of the Bible?
It is easy to see where this kind of thinking comes from. If we take the Bible out of context, we can make the jump from right context to easy-believism. It was God, after all, that gave Adam and Eve another opportunity at life. It was God that gave the Israelites several chances to become His people. It was God that saved Jonah, even though he denied Him. It was God who still turned Peter into a great leader and evangelist even though he denied Him three times.
If I am having a bad day and screwed up, these are definitely stories that console my spirit.
But there are many stories of God only giving people a first chance in the Bible and then making the call to end their life because of the sin they committed.
Look at people like Jeroboam or Ahab. Because of disobeying the Lord, they were taken out. Or what about Ananias and Sapphira? They lied to the disciples, and to God. The Lord did not give them a second chance. They were struck dead immediately.
Just because someone believes that God exists does not shield them from feeling God’s wrath or judgment.
Everyone is going to mess up.
We need to pay the consequences for those actions.
Galatians 6:7 – Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
But what makes it different for some people than for others?
Best as I can tell, it is the condition of the heart. When you look at the kings of both Israel and Judah listed in the Old Testament, the conditions of their hearts defined their punishment.
What about the Israelites in the desert? God destroyed some of them because of the conditions of their hearts.
Ananias and Saphira refused to repent, thus lying to God. Their hearts were not completely given to God.
All those people did evil in the sight of the Lord.
I believe that if we constantly think that God will gloss over our sins, then we challenge His authority. And, ultimately, it is that which God is angered about.
But we, especially Christians, do it all the time!
Why, when we know the end result of what happened to Ananias and Saphira, would we challenge God?
Ultimately, it comes to us. We think of ourselves as the beginning, middle and ending of our universes. When we think of ourselves higher than we are, then we believe that our feelings, our views and our lives are greater than others, including God.
Many times we can mask that self-centeredness. We do it well.
2 Timothy 3:1-4 – But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God
“I was only doing this to help someone else.”
We’ve said it many times before. Ananias and Saphira probably had the interests of each other in mind when they decided together to keep the money they had made instead of giving it to God. The kings of Israel and Judah probably had the overall interests of their people at heart when they made decisions that were “evil in the sight of the Lord.” The Israelites were thinking of their families and future families as they worked to convince Moses to turn back around and go to Egypt.
But what we fail to remember is that God will take care of us.
The is the epitome of pride.
When we believe either that we are the ones who command our destinies or that our problems are so big that God cannot handle it we say that God is insufficient.
It is that pride that needs to be broken in us.
It is that pride that leads us to make incorrect choices.
It is that pride that holds with it consequences that require a fully sovereign and loving God to heal the damage that is done.
Contrary to what the world believes, God is not filled with malice and rage. Does He get angry? Of course. But He gets angry because He loves us so deeply.
But the world, and in many cases Christians, believe that God has brought about the problems we face because He is filled with evil tendencies.
That simply isn’t so.
God loves us so deeply that He wants us to have a free choice. He wants us to experience all of His qualities. He made us in His image for that purpose.
If God didn’t love us so deeply, He would have made us robots that He could control, not children He can pour into.
And if He withheld the consequences to our actions, we would go through this life not knowing the truth about them. His power would be weakened if He chose to turn a blind eye to consequences.
Understand that growth means pain sometimes. We make our choices. We reap the harvest of what we sow.
While it isn’t easy to accept consequences, it is needed in order to grow.
So when we mess up, understand there will be a consequence to that action. God won’t necessarily stop the bad things from happening in your life. He will more than likely allow them to happen.
It refines you.
Allow the consequence.
Relax a little and know that God is sovereign and while He won’t remove the bad stuff from your life, He will be with you through it all so that you are given the opportunity to grow.
Hebrews 12:11 – For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.