The pastor and the church council were locked in a heated debate. The council wanted to spend $7,000 to re-carpet the entire church. The pastor said the old carpet was good enough, and if they had $7,000 extra dollars laying around, they should use it to catch up on their commitments to the global mission of the church. The pastor quoted Bible verses to the council, and, the members of the council took the pastor on a walk around the church to show him where the carpet was wearing thin. Back and forth they went, but no minds were changed. Finally, the council president called for a vote. The results came as a surprise to no one. TEN were in favor of the new carpet, and only ONE, the pastor, was opposed. “Well,” said the president to the pastor with glee, “that takes care of that: 10-1, you lose.” The pastor replied, “I may have lost the vote, but I know I am right, and I am sure this is not God’s will, and I just pray that somehow God would open your eyes to the truth.”
Immediately after the words left his mouth, there was a tremendous noise and a blinding flash of light. A bolt of lightening came out of nowhere, crashed through the roof of the meeting room and hit right in the center of the table around which all were gathered. The table was shattered into a thousand pieces and all ten members of the council were blown off their chairs and onto the floor. Miraculously, none were hurt, but all were blackened by soot and their hair was singed. As they picked themselves up off the floor, they were surprised to see the pastor sitting there as if nothing happened. His portion of the table was not damaged, he was not blown off his chair, he was not black with soot, and not one hair was singed or even out of place.
“Well,” said the council president, “I guess your prayers were answered. God certainly did give us a sign as to what his will is on this matter, and it looks like God agrees with you. But that still only makes the vote 10-2, so you still lose.”
What makes that story funny is that you would think that once God had spoken in such a clear and powerful way, that would settle the matter. You would not think that God would get only one vote at a council meeting. In our disagreements within the church, and, in our inner struggles as we try to figure out God’s will for our own lives and decisions; in all those areas, the problem is usually disagreeing about, or, not knowing what God wants from us. His Word is open to different interpretations, and, His guidance on a particular matter may not be clear. But when we do know what God wants, and God’s Word is indeed clear on many things, we should then certainly do what God wants us to do.
Deuteronomy 11:1 says, “Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws, and his commands ALWAYS.” In Matthew 28:20 Jesus told the disciples to go into all nations, baptizing and “teaching them to obey EVERYTHING I have commanded you.” God expects to be obeyed. What he commands is good and just, and for our own good and the good of our neighbor, and God expects our obedience. We are right in assuming that God should get more than one vote at a council meeting. The God of the Bible takes no votes. God issues commands and expects obedience.
But how seriously do you take that? Do you really even want to know what God expects of you in every area of your life? In the use of your money? In the content of your conversation? In what it means when the Bible says to be always forgiving, always patient, always kind, always content? Is your attitude filled with the kind of gratitude that the Bible calls us to have, or do you have too many thoughts of envy or jealousy, which God always warns against? God has much to say about coming to him often in prayer. Are you satisfied with your prayer life and habits? When you do pray, is it ever to thank God, or is it always to ask for more yet? Are you quick to ask ‘why me God?’ when things go wrong, but seldom ask ‘why me God?’ when all is well? When you make a decision, is your first and foremost concern to find out what God’s will and command would be for you in the situation, and how you might please God? Have you ever intentionally done something you knew was wrong, presuming on God’s easy forgiveness rather than fearing his wrath? Do you really want Christ as your Lord, or do you want to be Lord of your own life?
There was clearly something wrong in that story at the beginning where the council president gave God only one vote, but at least God’s presence had been felt and his opinion had been acknowledged. Does God get that consideration from you?
Leviticus 18:4 — You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the Lord your God.
Deuteronomy 13:4 — It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.
John 14:23a — Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.”
PRAYER BASED ON MARTIN LUTHER’S CATECHISM EXPLANATION TO ARTICLE ONE OF THE APOSTLE’S CREED:
O God, you created me and all that exists. You have given and still preserve my body and soul with all their powers. You provide me with food and clothing, home and family, daily work, and all that I need from day to day. You also protect me in time of danger, and guard me from every evil. Help me to remember that all this is done out of fatherly and divine goodness and mercy, though I do not deserve it. I surely ought to thank and praise, serve and obey you. Help me to do this through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Amen.