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PLAYING GAMES WITH GOD

by Robert M. Smith

Chapter 3 - Does God Play With Us?


PLAYING GAMES WITH GOD

Chapter 3 - Does God Play With Us?

by Robert M. Smith


The game of chess is one of those rare games that demands of its players a high degree of intelligence and an absolutely essential capacity for foresight and planning. Often the chess match is much more akin to the labours of upper-level administration than it is to relaxation and amusement, but it is a game nonetheless.

We often refer to our lives and life in general as one large game of chess as we move about in society with destinations unbeknown to others; our paths continuously crossing again and again, amidst this complete tapestry of interwoven lives; leading one to detect an inkling of a plan which transcends our mundane, yet meaningful, actions and interactions. Only in life’s more distasteful moments do we even admit to the possibility of such a plan, however. And in those times of stress we are not looking so much for the plan but rather to lay blame upon whomever we might deem responsible for the plan of life. The thought goes something like this: “If there is a God, how can He do this to me?” At times we truly do feel like pawns but we must determine whether, in fact, we actually are or not before we go around half-cocked condemning God because we envision Him on the other end of a “joy stick”.

Does God know about our calamities before they happen? Certainly He does. There is sufficient Scripture to verify that conclusion: Ps 139:13-16; Isa 49:1-3; Isa 49:5; Gen 12:1-3; Gen 15:1-6; Gen 37:5-11; Matt 17:24-27; Matt 26:31-35; Eph 1:3-6 among others. Ah, but does this foreknowledge presuppose that one is hopelessly compelled to bend to the mind of God, as if locked into the service of His every strange whim and fancy? Such a question presumes God to be too human, for with it we judge Him as we would any man. By claiming that God toys with us we are attempting to bring Him down to our level of integrity – which, of course, is not very high. With that we try to eliminate His perfection and holiness, but we forget that - as we have already considered – He is not a man nor is He like a man. In this we must never forget the testimony of passages like Jas 1:13, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted with evil and He Himself tempts no one;” (RSV).

God remains serious about life – He is not tempting or playing with anyone – and He emphasizes this by His comments about it:  it is brief (Jas 4:14; Ps 102:3&11; Ps 144:3); it is terminal (Heb 9:27; Gen 3:19b); it can be wasted (Jude 11-13; Matt 10:39; Lk 12:19-21); He suffers through our lives for our benefit (2 Pet 3:9; Rom 5:8).

It can be quickly and easily ascertained that God does not play with us but our conceptualization of Him as the great Chess Player does have an awful lot to say about us.

Even though we may think of Him thusly – in a negative or depreciative sense – we are, at the same time, acknowledging, in a manner of speaking, His sovereignty. It is so very fascinating to find even the most rebellious minds and lives, in the hour of greatest stress, making reference to their own incapabilities and to His authority by imagining that He is using life’s inconveniences and miseries to do them ill. Romans 1:21 [“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”] in conjunction with John 1:9 [“There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.”] gives us an indication that all men have some innate realization that God exists. Times of pressure tend to reintroduce us to those deep impulses as well as emphasize them. No man, even here on earth, can suppress that inexorable twinge for a lifetime. The book of Revelation, chapter sixteen in particular, reveals this truth to us in the most graphic way as seven bowls of wrath are poured out upon those who stand defiant to God. Reading like some extraordinary universal environmental disaster, the angels of God keep emptying their bowls over a sin-cursed earth until these events are seen as the unmistakable hand of God. By the time the fourth bowl is poured out men are responding to God, but in a most negative way. The text says repeatedly that men blasphemed or cursed God (Rev 16:9; 11; 21) and refused to repent before Him even as they knew that He was responsible for these judgments. In verse nine we are actually given a phrase that defines the moment: “and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues”. This is an exceptional revelation of the obstinacy of man; that in the face of such overwhelming Divine intervention, man could be so infected with sin and disdain for God that he would rather curse than repent. It is equally an exceptional revelation as it testifies that God’s sovereignty cannot be denied … no, not even by the ungodly! In fact, their stance only fortifies His sovereignty all the more.

Secondly, the slur that some launch at God becomes their own condemnation. They may claim that God is using them but their accusation merely ricochets back at them by designating the bankruptcy of their own thoughts and the subsequent abuse in which they would indulge if they were in a position of supreme authority. Some accuse Him because that is what they would do if they were in His place.

Sure, man is not in God’s place but we try to appease our own desperate and disparate desires with our insubordinate attitudes and responses to His guidance. We try to wrest what we can from His grasp and upon occasion fancy ourselves as masters of our own destinies. Lost in the sheer lunacy of our own self-importance we begin to gamble with spiritual and eternal realities, thus doing great harm to ourselves and many others as well.

Let’s look at some of the games we play:




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