Thursday, March 22, 2007

Like Magic....

I've always been a fan of magic tricks. I remember my geeky high school days when I actually carried a deck of cards with me at all times with which to perform tricks. I had a deck of marked cards with a marking system I'd developed myself. I practiced some coin sleights for hours so I could pull off the simple "make a quarter disappear and reappear" trick. I've forgotten some of the stuff, but I can still do the coin flourish I spent so long learning. I guess what amazes me about magic is the unexpected expectation. I mean, we all have expectations that a magician will try to amaze us, but the good ones do it in ways that catch us off guard. They are able to amaze us despite the fact that we are watching them closely, looking for the "trick" part of the magic. When they manage to pull off the prestige despite our scrutiny, we are amazed and entertained.

Some people have this mental image of God as some sort of cosmic magician. They scoff at his power by using flawed logic to make the Creator of the universe seem petty, ie: Can God create a rock so heavy that even He can't lift it? Nonetheless, we are amazed when we examine certain passages in scripture. One such passage that comes to mind is Romans 4:17-18.

17As it is written: "I have made you a father of many nations." He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were. 18Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be."

In this passage, Paul is explaining what happened to Abraham. Because of his faith in God's promise, the promise became reality. Paul is highlighting the power of faith in God. I'd like to point out the last bit of verse 17: [God] calls things that are not as though they were. Did you get that? Here is God doing His cosmic magician bit... look carefully... something isn't... then it is. Did you catch the trick? God speaks and the universe itself rearranges to accomodate God's spoken word. Oh, this isn't a new trick. That is how God got it all started, remember?

Genesis 1:3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.

For us lesser magicians, we rely on something rather less impressive to accomplish our goal of amazing entertainment: misdirection. That's right folks... we can't really make rabbits appear out of hats and scarves stand up and dance of their own volition. While the magician directs your attention to one area, something subtle is happening where you're not looking to cause things to appear to be something that they are not. When we pull it off, you are amazed. So it surprises me a bit to find that so many people tend to place God in the humdrum category.

God doesn't rely on tricks or misdirection or deciet to accomplish His works... He merely gives voice to His will and VOLIA! there it is. So, back to Romans... God calls things that are not as though they were. Remember when Jesus was told about the little girl who was dead? They laughed at him when he said that she was not dead, but merely asleep. He said that she was alive and inexplicably, she was! No misdrection, just the power of God's word at work.

Now, I hope at this point that you've bought what I'm trying to sell: God's word is powerful and creates something where there previously was nothing. When God says something, it is powerful to change the universe in instant and inexplicable ways. Something from nothing. Let's go back to Romans again, the second half of the passage I quoted:

4:18Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be."

It says, "...Abraham in hope believed and so became..." So, here we have the second half of our miracle formula. God's power to effect change in the universe is in no way hinged on whether we believe him, however, in our individual circumstance, our belief in God's power and faithfulness to fulfil his promises is the factor that determines how effective God is in our lives. For Abraham, it was a no-brainer. He believed in God's ability to make good his promise and God rewarded him. If we can mimic Abraham's faith, what promises can we patiently expect God to make good in our lives?

Hebrews 13:5b: God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."

1 Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Of course, the Bible is full of God's promises to his children, to those who come to him in faith and obey him in the hope that he will be faithful to fulfill his promises.

God calls those who obey his commands his children, and so they are.
God calls those who follow his Son, "blessed", and so they are.
God calls those who undertake to be disciples of Christ his "heirs", and so they are.
God calls the broken, the tainted, the worn, the rich, the poor, the proud, the humble, the sad, the joyful, the unloved, the outcast, the sinner...

Are we ready to respond in faith, against all hope that the Creator of the universe could be calling me.... in hope beliving and so becomming what God desires us to be... His. It is no trick. It is the real deal.

God calls that which was not as though it were. Yup. God can do that. It is amazing, like magic.

No comments: