The line in the graphic above from the Office’s Michael Scott – could well describe many in modern Evangelicalism. To be sure, most of us would not actually categorize ourselves that way. But it is something worth considering.
I Chronicles 13 contains one of the most enigmatic passages in the Bible. David, after solidly becoming King over all Israel, decides it is time to bring the Ark of The Covenant up to Jerusalem – the place to become the seat of power of the nation. Verse 3 notes David’s reasoning: 1 Chron. 13:3 “Then let us bring again the ark of our God to us, for we did not seek it in the days of Saul.”
During Saul’s reign, he was not as interested in seeking the face of God for what God wanted to do in Israel. He was more interested in simply using God to do what He decided he wanted to do. The prime example of that being one of the most dark moments in Israel’s history – the battle with the Philistines where the Ark was captured, and Saul and Jonathan lost their lives in battle. They had taken to Ark into battle as a sort of good luck charm. And it failed. Tragically.
Now David, with basically good intentions, wants to honor God and bring the Ark to a resting place in the capitol city. The Ark is being transported on a cart instead of being carried on the shoulders of the priests as God had required. And when hitting some rough road, the Ark looked like it might tumble and fall. Uzzah, a man nearby, stuck out his hand to steady the Ark. And God killed him for it. The text then notes that David was angry. We’re not sure if it was with God, himself or what. But in the meantime, he goes back to consult the Word, finds his error, and brings the Ark to Jerusalem properly this time. Verse 12 is very telling: 1 Chron. 13:12 “And David was afraid of God that day, and he said, “How can I bring the ark of God home to me?” And from then on, before David enters any battle – battles which would seem to be no-brainers – repelling attacks. David first consults the Lord before going.
Because David had learned that even though he was King, he was King to carry out God’s program. God was not the means for David to carry out his own. He was there to do God’s will. God was not there to do David’s.
Truth be told, many of us are like David before the incident with Uzzah. We seek God’s presence, say our prayers, go to worship, have our daily quiet time, etc., with a subtext of getting God on our side in the things we want to do in life. We treat the Christian life like a good luck charm. After all, God is here to bless and accomplish our agendas isn’t He? Doesn’t He want us to be healthy and prosperous and above all – happy? And isn’t it His role to serve us in achieving our dreams and ambitions? Won’t reading our Bibles every day influence Him to make our business deals go well, make our wives nicer, our kids more obedient, our sports team win and our candidate take office?
God is not a good luck charm. The crosses on our necklaces are no amulets against the powers of darkness. The “Jesus Saves” bumper sticker on our car is not a magic talisman. Nor are Church attendance, small groups, prayer, tithes or quiet times. For He does not exist to enable us to achieve our wills and bless our endeavors: We exist to serve His plans and purposes. We are here to make Him known. To carry out His will. We cannot carry Him about to make life nice.
Don’t use your pastor that way either. As if you can live any way you want, but if he performs your marriage ceremony – somehow that make it all right even when making a bad choice in a mate.
Don’t serve God superstitiously. Even a little-stitiously. Serve Him as your Lord, and God and King. As here to do His bidding. There is no life so satisfying, as living it the way we were designed: To be His image-bearers; Informed by His Word; empowered by His Spirit – to carry out His desires.
How can you know if you are superstitiously serving God? When you tie a troublesome event – like a flat tire – to whether or not you have your quiet time today. When you are discouraged from reading the Word, prayer or attending worship because things aren’t going your way. When you are frustrated with God for not answering prayer the way you wanted Him to – and are ticked off at Him for it. When in sum, He refuses to be manipulated, and it bugs you. You’re doing all the “right stuff” and He’s not responding the way you want. It is then that you have begun to try and magically make God your servant. And He’ll have none of it. As God warned the Israelites before entering Canaan – citing the pagan practices of the nations they were to dispossess – “You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way.” (Deut. 12:4) For ALL false religion functions on the premise of getting cosmic powers to do one’s bidding by rites, rituals, ceremonies, sacrifices etc.. And God WILL NOT be served that way.
We do not serve God as a means to obtain our pre-conceived goodies. We serve God, because He Himself is our inheritance – as a nation of priests – even as He swore to the Levites. If the Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance, nothing else could be the full measure of it other than the fullness of God Himself in all of His triune glory. Not things – HIM!
Christian – serving God for stuff, is rank superstition. Idolatry. Serve Him for Him. And you have everything.