I have been listening to the news and reading sports blogs this morning, something I never do, and people are talking about the Broncos’ unexpected win. Several times I heard or read a phrase I expected: “God showed up.”
Now, let me say this at the outset: I hate that phrase! So many pastors and other believers say it. It’s as though God is so busy doing other things that He doesn’t often show up at the things we are interested in. When things go well at church, for example, then God must have shown up. Too bad He didn’t show up for the other events. At least we know Who to blame for the failures.
Performance. Not only the legalists measure success by performance. The whole church system seems so focused on performance that it doesn’t seem far-fetched to consider it an idol. Even God is judged by His performance. If He does what we want, He showed up.
A young man watches from the house as his father begins to work on the car. The boy knows he should go out and offer to help, but it’s cold and he would rather stay in and watch TV. Eventually, his guilt moves him outside and his dad says, “Nice of you to show up.”
That’s what I think of when I hear that God “showed up.” It’s really a negative comment, isn’t it? It’s lousy theology. It’s a way of passing the buck to God.
It isn’t new, of course. Remember Martha’s comment/accusation to Jesus? “Then Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”( John 11:21) In other words, “If You had shown up, we wouldn’t be in mourning.” It may be an indirect comment, but it is still a suggestion that the situation is Jesus’ fault.
No, this is all wrong. God is everywhere and Jesus is always with us. The truth is that the story is bigger than our successes. Sometimes we will get what we want. Sometimes we won’t. It isn’t about us.
Yes, God was with Tim Tebow and the Broncos yesterday. No question. But He was also with them last week and the week before and the week before that, when the team didn’t look very good and the scores didn’t make their fans happy. And God was with the Steelers.
Yesterday was an amazing time for Broncos fans. Yes, we prayed. Yes, we cheered. Yes, we thanked our Lord. It is a lot easier to do that when we are happy. Sometimes we forget when we are sad.
God is with you when you win. God is just as much with you when you lose. He loves you and He moves you along a path that has less to do with success in this life than with living in relationship with Him. Trust Him.
What do you think?