WHY LORD, WHY?
When certain things happen to us, we have a good idea why. If these are pleasant, joyous and beneficial, we imagine they are earned, deserved or at least have been a long time coming. Even when we do not know why these things have happened, this does not bother us too much.
No one, however really believes they deserve trials, tests, tribulations,persecutions, lack,failure, bereavement, disasters, etc. It is true that we have learnt to endure certain negativities and situations of discomfort because we are convinced of their benefits. For example, we will push up our pain threshold while exercising because we believe the maxim,”no pain, no gain!” We will also tolerate bitter medicine hoping it will make us better. Expending money, time and effort to get qualifications and better prospects, is also a permissible discomfort.
When however bad things happen to good people, good things continue to happen to bad people and the wicked continue to flourish and oppress the righteous, as believers, we get flummoxed. Can there be a purpose or valid explanation for it all?
IN THE BEGINNING
Recollect, if you will that God purposed to create man in His image and after His likeness. This meant that they would not only resemble Him and be a representative figure of Him, but would also be godlike enough to reflect the divine nature. Jesus tells us in John 4:24 that God is a spirit and those who worship Him must do so in spirit and in truth. So God created man a spirit and gave that spirit a house to live in called the body. He also gave man a soul with which to apprehend emotional, intellectual and volitional issues. Indelibly etched in man’s spirit is God’s DNA and this regulated his behaviour until Adam’s fall in the Garden of Eden.
OBEDIENCE IS THE KEY
Jesus taught His disciples in John 15:10 that if they kept His commandments, they would remain in His love, just as He remained in His Father’s love because He kept His Father’s commandments. Since 1John 4:8 tells us God is love, to remain in His love is to operate as He would because one Has His very nature.
DISOBEDIENCE HAS GRAVE CONSEQUENCES
To obey God’s commandments is to surrender to His Lordship. To disobey is to enthrone someone else as lord over your life. Who is this person? Romans 16:6 captures it unequivocally:
6. Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey-whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
Furthermore, Jesus, while having one of His many encounters with the duplicitous Pharisees, described them as children of the devil. Hear Him explain why in John 8:42-44
42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Anyone therefore who is not born again has the image of fallen Adam. That image Adam in turn got from satan when Adam chose to obey satan rather than God. Incidentally, that image and likeness is prevalent in the world and its systems.
WHY THE DEVIL ATTACKS YOU
The things that happen to you, what the devil throws at you as a believer, are designed to reshape you, to conform you, mould you to the shape, image and likeness of the evil one:
- bad experiences are designed to make you bad;
- bitter feuds are designed to leave you bitter;
- hurtful acts are designed not just to hurt you, but to make you vengeful;
- spiteful words are designed to make you curse and swear;
- enmity is designed to make you hate people;
- Ill-treatment is designed to make you callous and hard-hearted; and
- hatred is designed to kill your philanthropy.
“RENDER THEREFORE UNTO CAESAR THE THINGS WHICH ARE CAESAR’S…”
Jesus in another of His encounters with the scheming Pharisees, was asked by them if it was right to pay taxes to Caesar or not. As with all their diabolical plans, this question was skilfully designed as a no-win scenario for Jesus. If He said no, he would immediately incur the ire of the Roman colonial authority who depended on an elaborate vassalage and tax system to maintain the Empire. If however He said yes, He would incur the wrath of His fellow Jews who were groaning under an excessive and oppressive Roman tax regime.
Jesus immediately perceived and rebuked their evil intent to ensnare Him. What He did next totally confounded and silenced them. He asked for a coin used for paying the tax and enquired as to whose image and superscription was on it. They responded that it was Caesar’s. His wise and incontrovertible concluding counsel to them was that they were to give to Caesar what was his and to God what was God’s!
“… AND UNTO GOD, THE THINGS THAT ARE GOD’S”.
The Greek word for IMAGE (eikon) means representation or resemblance while superscription means to write, engrave or print as a lasting record; it also refers to the wording on a coin, medal, seal or currency note.
WHOSE IMAGE AND SUPERSCRIPTION DO YOU BEAR?
As, for example, our typical British coin is valuable and has the image of our sovereign, and the engraving of the government’s authority so our hearts are valuable and susceptible to whatever authority we surrender to. Your actions will reveal whose image you bear. The image of Adam in our hearts requires an eye for an eye, is given to lust, envy, jealousy, fits of anger, sexual immorality, drunkenness, witchcraft, debauchery, idolatry etc.
God’s word however warns against such. Proverbs 24:17-18 for example warns:
17 Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice,
18 or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from him.
This is obviously swimming against the tide. Verse 29 further wraps up the thought:
29 Do not say, “I’ll do to him as he has done to me; I’ll pay that man back for what he did.”
God wants you to go through stuff without being bent out of shape. Hear what God says in Romans 12:1-2:
1. With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give Him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to Him and acceptable by Him.
2. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all His demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.(J. B. Phillips New Testament).
In Luke 6:27-28, one of the most pivotal sections of the Bible, God gives you the key to not conforming to the enemy’s image or being squeezed into his mould.
27 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who ill-treat you.
In verses 35-36, God tells you why- it releases to you untold rewards, but more importantly, it declares whose son you are and whose image you bear:
35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
From now on, examine every one of your motives and actions and ask yourself always- “Whose image and superscription am I bearing and whose character am I manifesting?”
Let us give the Apostle Paul the last word in his self-explanatory text in 1 Corinthians 15:45-49:
45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.