Why doesn’t God make things right? People have asked me that question countless times. Their criticism, implied or explicit, is that God isn’t fulfilling his job description. The past three thousand years haven’t silenced Job’s complaint, “Why do the wicked survive, grow old, become mighty in power? [Job 21:7]
In Luke’s gospel an aggrieved heir sought Jesus’ support in his search for satisfaction. When Jesus responded, “Who made me judge over you,” I’m absolutely certain the man walked off grumbling, “Then what good are you?” Seeking a judge or policeman, the man couldn’t see that Jesus was offering a whole new world. Or maybe the man understood very well and turned away because the gift offered was too big, too threatening.
An important clue that we don’t understand the offer God revealed in Jesus’ life is our tendency to pray that God will make others change their ways or that God will make some unsatisfactory situation conform to our liking. Rarely do we pray that God will help us change or help us promote justice. We want God to play on our side or at least umpire a fair game. God wants us to change the game.
The first question in developing a Christian spirituality is what is God doing here? The second question is, am I doing what God is doing? The caution in the first question is the danger of assuming that God is following my agenda. The danger in the second is assuming that we can accomplish God’s goals by using our means rather than God’s. Recall that God offers faith and unity to people respecting their freedom to accept or not. Christians, on the other hand, have gone to war to force belief and unity on people.
It’s worth our time to pray over the fact that Jesus followed up his refusal to judge between two heirs with the admonition not to place material possessions above the peace and loving relationships that characterize the World of God’s Future.