I came across a sports article this week that speaks volumes as to what is being preached in the common church today. The article (you can see it HERE) was regarding Steve Johnson, a receiver for the Buffalo Bills (an American football team). Apparently, toward the end of a recent game Johnson had a chance to make a heroic catch and win the game with a last-minute score. The only problem is, he dropped the ball. It landed in his arms and bounced out again. So the Buffalo Bills didn’t score, and they lost the game. So how does this event reflect on modern-day preaching? After the game, Steve Johnson blamed God for the drop! Later in the day Johnson sent a Twitter message to God. It read, “”I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!!” AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO…”
As amazing as this statement is, it should be expected. If the messages I hear coming from my radio and the popular christian books are correct, God should have made Johnson catch the ball! Why? Modern preaching is all merit based. “If you do this…God will do that… If you obey, God will bless… If you tithe, God will repay with more… If you praise, God will give you more to praise about.” Steve Johnson (if he is being honest) gives God obedience and regular praise throughout the day, and yet, no blessing that day! The formula preachers quacking from the pulpit will immediately try to identify what component of the formula wasn’t performed correctly. Did Johnson not have enough faith? Maybe he forgot to sing praises before bed the night before? Perhaps God knew that a catch like that would earn him more money in the next contract, and He knew Johnson wasn’t ready to handle that kind of money yet. “It has to be something!” they will say, “The formula will always work. It’s a promise from God!” Well, no, it isn’t. If that were the case, and health and healing were a reward from God, we would have the very old (yet still healthy) disciples of Jesus running around still with us today. The fact is, believers suffer persecution and hard times.
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy— wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. Hebrews 11:13-16 and 35-38
Wow! Johnson is furious at dropping a ball, and yet look at believers of the past. What do you think someone getting sawn in half for the name of Christ would have to say about poor Steve Johnson’s terrible day? The problem is, Johnson has probably never heard this passage from Hebrews discussed from the pulpit. He has probably never encountered the biblical truth that God is not a man-centered God who sits in the heavenlies wanting to dote upon His children, if only they would obey and praise enough! The true Lord (the God of the Bible) is not a formula, and he does not live to fulfill every desire of man. The true Lord commands us to repent and believe, and then live with Him as Lord, submitting in contentment to all He sends our way.
The rant by Johnson is fully justified if God truly is a formula-driven Santa Claus in the sky the way He is portrayed to be. I am happy to report that God is so much bigger, and more important, than us or our needs. Folks, read your Bible and pay attention to His focus and His priorities. If you happen to know Steve Johnson, could you please give him a Bible? You might suggest he start reading it in Hebrews…