Thursday, December 10, 2015

Playing the God Card

Over the years I have heard people justify many different behaviors by saying God told them to do it.  When someone says this, they are playing the God card. Once the God card is played, it is very difficult to have any meaningful conversation about the behavior because if we do not agree with whatever the other person claims God said, then we are going against God.

If someone says God told them to bake cookies for a next door neighbor as a way to demonstrate God's love to them, we need not be overly concerned if they have actually heard from God or not. After all, cookies are fairly harmless, so if it was only the person's emotions that wanted to make the cookies and not a real word from God, it may not make much of a difference.

But people often play the God card for much bigger things than just baking cookies for the neighbors. I will never forget the conversation I had with two men who attended a church I was once the pastor of. The first claimed God had told him to leave his wife and marry another woman. But he had a problem because that other woman was already in an adulterous relationship with a different man. And that other man also claimed God wanted him to leave his wife and marry the adulterous women. The two men were in conflict over which of them could get divorced first and win the hand of the adulterous women. Talk about a weird love triangle! 

Though I do not claim to speak for God, I highly doubt God wanted two marriages to break up so that two men would be free to argue over a third woman. I have always thought those men were led by lust, not by the Lord. But once they declared that "God told him" to do this, they no longer needed to listen to a mere pastor's advice. After all, who was I as their pastor to tell them something different than what God has said?

In situations like this I always remind people that God speaks by His Spirit through the Bible, circumstances, prayer and the church. Notice that the Bible is first, because it is the plumb line through which the other methods are measured. I do not know if there is a specific verse in the Bible that deals with baking cookies for a neighbor, but I do know several that talk about lusting after another man's wife. God will never lead us to contradict His Word.

God also speaks through circumstances. If we are having to kick a door open through deceit, manipulation or coercion, then it is clearly NOT a door God has opened. Since the Bible is our plumb line, God never opens a door that goes against what the Bible has already said.

God also speaks through prayer. As we pray through the scriptures and look at the circumstances God has put us in, proper behavior presents itself. God will not tell us in our prayers to do something contrary to His Word.

Rarely does God speak to only one person about things He plans to do. There is only one Spirit and that Spirit normally speaks to several of His children. If we think God wants us to do something, we should seek counsel from other mature Christians to see if God is telling them the same thing. That is why it is important to be active in a local church, so we can benefit from the godly wisdom of others in times of uncertainty. If we find that we are the only one God is speaking to about something, that most likely means that the timing is not yet right for us to proceed and we must wait until He also speaks to others about the same thing before moving forward.

In the end, if we do conclude that God has actually spoken to us about doing a certain thing, then we really must act upon that leading. However, we must remember that the prophets of old often paid a high price for obeying what God said. Why would we expect it to be any different for us? Far too often I hear people say that God told them to do a certain thing, but then when that thing gets hard, they bail. They apparently thought God only wanted them to obey when it was easy, though that goes against the whole narrative of scripture. We should be careful about playing the God card, but when we do, we should follow through with it, even if it costs us dearly.

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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett is a church planter and author who has lived in New England since 1993 starting churches and discipling new believers. He is a happy husband, proud father and grandfather, thankful cancer survivor, and more convinced than ever that New England is ripe for spiritual revival. Check out Dr. Dorsett's books at this link:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00405U4NY

13 comments:

  1. one of my pet peeaves --- it seems like if God were telling someone something it would line up with the LOGOS -- and maybe, perhaps even be confirmed by one's spiritual oversight?

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    1. Thanks for your comment Michael. That is exactly my point.

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  2. Preach it brother - I have said this same thing many times over the last couple decades. It is especially a problem in church leadership meetings! Playing the trump card stops all good interaction and turns it adversarial. There is no way to "discuss" after that.

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  3. Oh yes, the God card. It trumps everything.(no pun intended) It overrides common sense, good counsel, pastoral advice, and the Bible itself. If you are playing the God card make sure it is not the god of this world you have been listening to.

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    1. The louder someone shouts that God told them so, the less likely it is that God actually told them anything.

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  4. By His Word and By His Spirit....God may change His Ways of Dealing with Man, but He will not Fail to be Faithful to His Word or His Character.

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    1. Or if it in keeping with the Spirit of the Son of God and Father's Demonstrated Will.

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  5. When I hear a person say, "God told me" and it is not a quote from the Bible that person immediately become suspect to me. If it is in the Book - God's Book, I am f or it.

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