by Steven Chan
24 August 2008
We live in a world where the idea of hiring and firing is pervasive in our culture. As employees, we are hired to do the work that the Company wants us to do. If we fail to do the work to the satisfaction of our bosses, we are fired or our services terminated. As employers, we also adopt the same attitude. If our employees perform to our satisfaction, we retain them, the moment they failed us, we fire them!
In the religious world, some of us are likely to adopt the same approach and do the same. We (kind of) hire God to solve our problems – perhaps we view our Sunday attendances and contributions as our payment for the services that God render to us. Perhaps to some of us, God is our hired problem-solver – we go to him with our laundry list of problems and say to Him: “Fix these problems for me. If you don’t fix these problems real quick and to my level of satisfaction, you will be fired!”
Can one hire and fire God? Yet that’s how many of us act in our lives? Some say, God doesn’t work for me these days – He is boring and irrelevant. I am going to fire Him (although one would not say that but one’s action betrays the reality – as stated in Titus 1:16: “They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him”) and look for another problem-solver that I may be able to hire – someone that will do my bidding – a God whose teachings/beliefs are more like mine or more acceptable to me. That’s how some of us choose our God – we say, “I like this concept of God because there is a second chance for me to do better in the next life (via reincarnation or some process akin to that); in contrast to the God that seems too severe because He threatens to send the disobedient to hell.” Is that how we view or treat our God? Do we really have such an option or choice? Is God for hire?
One may recall what is recorded in Malachi 3:8: “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ Similarly, one may ask, “Will a man hire and fire God?” Yes, indeed when one chooses to reject God in his life when he feels that God is no longer needed, and then pray fervently only when one feels that one needs Him.
Similarly, some hire and fire the preacher! “Preach that which entertains me! Or else… you are fired.” One complains that the preacher is no longer speaking our lingo; he should be replaced regardless of the fact that he is still preaching the truth and working hard in reaching out to the lost. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables”(2 Tim 4:3-4). Are we concerned with truth or entertainment?
In the same way, some hire and fire the church! They say to the church, “Do as I want. Come and serve me and my needs – if not, I will fire you! I won’t attend your services neither will I contribute to the work in the church.” Some consider the church services to be boring and so, they choose not to continue to come to church services. It seems as if they have the right to choose the church – as if God has given them the right to choose the church to be a member of. In spite of the exhortation of the apostle Paul as recorded in I Cor 12:12-27 regarding the need to be supportive of those who are weak and to strengthen those who are weak (Heb 12:12,13), some would rather abandon the weak church/brethren and move on to stronger congregations. Instead of forbearing with one another in the church (Eph 4:2), some choose to move congregational membership. Is that a demonstration of an attitude that glorifies God? When asked why some are not regularly attending services, the replies may include:
- “no time” (i.e. that means I have better things to do than to attend services);
- “very boring” [i.e. meaning that church service is what one gets/gains rather than what one is supposed to do or give – i.e. to worship God and to edify brethren (Rom 14:19)];
- “brethren there do not care for me” (implying that if one’s need is not being met or served, then one can fire the church! What about we serving or caring for others!? Do we not know what the Lord taught in Matt 20:27-28: “And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave– just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”);
- “members there are hypocrites” (implying that everyone else except him is imperfect – what about Matt 7:1 and James 4:12?)
- “the new church that I am attending meets my needs” (regardless of whether the church there is teaching the truth – Matt 15:8,9)
As Christians and members of the body of Christ (i.e. the church of Christ), are we not charged with the God-given responsibility to carry out our Lord’s will in the church to which He has added us (Acts 2:47) and to therefore glorify Him in His Body (Eph 3:21) by exhorting and encouraging every member daily (Heb 3:13) to function as God has blessed us (I Pet 4:10,11) so that every member has the same care for one another (I Cor 12:25)? Can we abandon the church that needs us? Can we withhold what we are capable of doing for the church – for whatever personal reasons? Are we not concerned with the warning of James 4:17: “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin”?
Listen to what the Bible has to say in 1 Kings 18:21: “And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” The primary question is whether “the Lord is God” – and not some other criteria. Is the Lord, God? If so, then follow Him. It has to do with the objective truth of whether the Lord is God. It is not dependent on how one feels or whether the Lord is meeting our needs, etc… If the Lord is God, then serve Him.
God is not for hire! God desires to be our shepherd who ‘has not spared His Son but delivered Him up for us all, and also desire to freely give us all things’ (Rom 8:32). In John 10:11-16, Jesus declared: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”
The declared and demonstrated truth is that God loves us and cares for us (John 3:16; I John 3:16; I Pet 5:7). We can choose to obey Him or to ignore Him in which case we can expect “a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries” (Heb 10:27). Indeed, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Heb 10:31). “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Cor 5:10) Do we know the terror of the Lord? (2 Cor 5:11).
Let’s be careful lest we allow worldly attitudes to govern our lifestyle and how we view our responsibility towards God and His church.