Monday, May 15, 2017

Does it work?

Is "Does it work" the right question to ask about God?  Marriage, faith, church, hope,
My marriage is in trouble. If we started coming to church, do you think it would work?

I’ve got a kid who is breaking my heart. If I prayed for him, do you think it would work?

I’ve got cancer and I’m really scared to die. If I asked God to heal me, do you think it would work?

Does it work?  

That is a question I have heard before.  It’s a question that hurts me because it so often comes from a  place of immense pain and fear.  But I’m sorry to say it’s the wrong question. Why? Because it implies that we are willing to serve God if it will work (IE if we will get what we want.) 

What it implies is impossible.  As long as we are holding on to our family, our health or anything else besides Jesus we can’t follow God. 

 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple 
(Luke 14:26).

So what is the right question?  

Let’s start with a cliched one, “What would Jesus do?”  If Jesus were in a marriage that was falling apart, how would he behave?  If Jesus had a rebellious child, a beloved son who was kicking against the goads, what would he do? Or if Jesus had cancer, how would he fight it?  Unfortunately we don't always know what Jesus would do.  Sometimes because Jesus didn’t have to repent and unravel His own mistakes.  Sometimes because the Gospels simply don’t parallel Jesus’ first century life with our twenty-first century ones.  

Perhaps the right question is in fact, “What would Jesus have me do?” That one is easier to answer.  Jesus would have us receive grace and sin no more.  Jesus would have us exhibit the work of the Spirit in our lives: He would have us be kinder, better, gentler, more faithful, more loving, more peaceful people.  Jesus would have us stand confident in the face of death because he defeated death on our behalf.

Jesus would have follow Him first and always.  

Jesus does have the answers.  If we love Him, obey Him, and follow Him, He promises to give us not what we want, but what we need:  the Holy Spirit, forgiveness of our sins, a family of Christians, a place with Him in the kingdom.  And more than that, the Bible reveals to us the character and wisdom we need to have good relations with the people around us.  It helps us raise kids, have healthy marriages, and live satisfying lives.  

So will it work? 

That’s the right question to ask about diet plans and exercise strategies, new planners and new prescriptions.

It’s just the wrong question to ask about God.

Want to catch some more encouraging posts?  Check out what's happening at the Salt and Light link-up!


  1. You make a good point :). It's not what we do (go to church, read the Bible), it's who we turn to that makes a difference. The doing comes as a result of the relationship's growth.

  2. Jesus first, yes! Thank you for linking up over at Salt & Light!

  3. thank you. i often read your articles and appreciate them but don't comment. i found this article encouraging--in the sense of encouraging me focus on what Jesus would do not what I would get out of it, and in the sense of encouraging me to have articulated clearly thoughts that rumble less coherently through my head (ie encouraging that someone is thinking like i am).

    1. I am so glad that you find them encouraging Carrel! Feel free to comment anytime!