A church in Oregon put an announcement in the local newspaper for an upcoming program they were having entitled, “Our God Resigns.” Shortly after that announcment was printed, a correction notice in the same local newspaper followed and read, “Our God Reigns.” They were so embarrassed.
What a difference a letter makes.
In this case, that single letter created two words that are seemingly polar opposites. While one word suggests complete sovereign royal rule and authority, the other suggests a yielding spirit; passivity–a dereliction of duties and obligations. Yes, this was just a “typo,” but sadly, many Christians live as if God has resigned, rather than living like He truly reigns as the Sovereign God of the universe.
Craig Groeschel, Pastor and New York Times bestselling author, coined the term: Christian Atheism. He defines this oxymoron as believing in God, but living as if He doesnt exist. I’ll take it even further by saying, it is believing in God, but believing He must not care and has abdicated the throne or resigned; therefore, we can do what we want to do, because He’s not looking anyway. If He really existed–if He really cared, then the world wouldn’t have all this evil and chaos.
In Haggai, Zerrubbabel found himself in that sort of discouraging situation. He lived in a conquered land. Many of the people had been taken off to Babylon. The remnant of people that remained were only there under Cyrus’ permission. They were still surrounded by angry neighbors that opposed the Jewish resettlement. The Jews that did return to the land seemed only concerned with their comfort and prosperity. The things of God took a backseat if they were even in the car at all. Yes, there was a moderately good response to the call to rebuild the temple, but still many of the Jews were outwardly religious, but deep down in the bowels of their hearts, they were far from Him. They believed in God, but with all of the things going on around them, they were discouraged and lived as if He didn’t exist.
Are we like the people in the book of Haggai?
Do we look around at all the evil in the world and believe in God, but question if He really exists? Do we profess to be Christians, but live our lives in a way that reflects anything but? Do we make excuses and say, “Yes, I am a Christian, but I still do these things anyway…God understands…He knows my heart.”
Is the enemy winning?
In spite of all these big box churches springing up on every corner and in spite of all the Christian influence and resources available, it seems that evil has run rampant and increased over the last 30 years. In an article written by a Pastor in Arizona, he refers to a time where most Americans believed in Christian moral standards. Even if they didn’t uphold them, they at least believed. Now we look around and even professing Christians do not live by Christian standards. People flaunt their sins, several denominations tolerate homosexuality instead of preaching truth and loving the person, but hating the sin. Its just easier, right? It’s just easier to tell people how to use God for their own personal fulfillment rather than preach the gospel of how they can be saved from God’s judgment.
When you consider all of the evil in the world…from militant Islam to the absolute anarchy in our own government, it easy to ask the question, ” Has God resigned?”
The people in the book of Haggai were probably asking the same question. In Haggai 2:20-23, there is a messsge of encouragement: God wanted to encourage His servants to trust in him and do his will because ultimately, His eternal will and plan will prevail. God did this on purpose. He knew His people were feeling discouraged and needed to be lifted up.
As humans, it is so easy to get blinded and bogged down by the vissicitudes of life. We begin to have pity parties and need instant gratification. The world’s distractions deter us and we lose sight of God’s eternal plan. The Lord is reminding us through His prophet, Haggai, to keep our eyes on the prize.
We must not confuse what is going on in our lives right now with God’s ultimate plan.
We must look at God’s promises through the lens of eternity and not our finite lenses. Remember when you’re going through something, His ways are not our ways. Remember to thank Him in the midst because He still exists and is working it out.
While God loves us, he is not concerned about our happiness, but rather our holiness.
This is not to say that he wants us walking around all sad and depressed. It means that He will do whatever it takes to save our souls and bring us in right relationship with Him. That is the point, isnt it?
As Christians, I encourage us to all walk in God confidence and believe that whatever circumstances come our way, walk in victory’s truth.
Act like you know whose you are and remember that God reigns and He will never resign.