What good does Jesus’ authority matter when the world feels out of control? I often think I just want him to step in and make it all stop, to show us his power and make it all be done. I pray every day for him to intervene and stop the virus, asking him to help scientists create a vaccine, even if they don’t believe in him. I believe it is right to pray for this, all the while knowing that God might not intervene. I do want to add that I definitely believe that God does hear our hearts, and answer our prayers, and can help scientists with a vaccine to the pandemic, because he is in relationship with people; people are his heart. Even those who don’t yet believe in him. He isn’t causing harm to his treasure but loves to hear from us and to work with us to create good out of the muck of the world.
We could be in for months of this, and many more deaths. What is the distinctly Christian way to respond to those difficult thoughts?
Remember that the disciples were persecuted after Jesus went to heaven. Remember the passages in our series in Acts when they were jailed, falsely accused, beaten, and in Stephen’s case, stoned to death, for following Jesus’. It is quite reasonable to imagine the disciples lamenting, just the like the Psalms of Lament, “Lord, step in and make this stop. Rescue us!”
But he didn’t make it all stop. He also wasn’t the cause of it. The sinful human leadership was the cause of most of early church’s pain. Yet God did not step in and change that. Out of the persecution, he brought new revelation of who he was to them. He had also given them the Holy Spirit to be with them always, and he promised them an abundant life when they followed his ways and teachings. Abundant life does not mean a life free from pain. Finally he promised them future wholeness and a lifetime with him in eternity.
That is why authority matters. He is the final victory. In the end and through the mess, God is on our side. The good God is on our side! We need to let him and his ways and heart invade our minds, our actions, so we can see more of who he is in the mess of the brokenness of our earthly world. We can for sure pray for mercy and for more of “his kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven,” and we can work and make it our life’s passion to partner with him in that.
It’s maybe a little bit like teaching your child to ride a bike. This example breaks down if you look at it too closely, but bear with me. You kind of know, don’t you, that your child, once the training wheels comes off, will fall down and get hurt. They will probably turn the handle bar too quickly, while peddling too slowly, and the bike crashes to the ground. Some other kid might even run in front of them and cause a crash, injuring both of them. As they learn to ride the bike, there is so much that go wrong! Even we adult riders crash sometimes.
But when you are teaching them to ride, you are the authority. You give good guidelines. You show them the best methods. You explain the joy of it all and the dangers ahead. And when the inevitable hurt happens, you can teach them through the pain, as you are there with them. You are not causing bad to happen to them, though you are basically 100% sure that pain will happen in the process. When it does, you can love, comfort, encourage, teach and walk with them, helping them to learn from their skinned knees and bruised emotions.
Riding a bike brings pain, yes, but also great fun and joy! Learning a new skill adds layers of beauty to your child’s life, even with the potential of layers of pain and harm. You are not the cause that pain, but when it happens you will be right there and bring good from it with them.
That is a picture of God’s authority and presence in our lives too!