God Games

Tonight marked the end of the 2010 world series – and saw the Giants win their first championship since moving to San Francisco over 50 years ago.  For an entire city, it felt like they had finally achieved something – even though it was all just a game.  People play games every day.  I’m not talking about the aforementioned children’s games that grown men are paid a kings ransom to play (and I pay to watch from time to time.)  I’m talking about games between people.  A manager will try different “head games” to get production out of his or her employees, whether on an assembly line, in an office near Wall Street, or in a football locker room.  A daughter will threaten to move in with her boyfriend unless her parents help fund a one-bedroom apartment for her, while the parents may use reverse psychology to achieve the opposite result.  A significant other will throw a fit, planning to make up the next day, solely for the purpose of getting out of going somewhere that night.  In fact, one could probably study dating, marriage, and family relationships in general and teach a course called “gameplaying 101.”  Some people constantly play games out of what they feel is necessity, other times because they love the games themselves.   How tragic it is, however, when we attempt to play games with God.
Many who have no respect for politicians still marvel at their ability to stay out of “hot potato” issues, to play both sides against the middle, and to stand for everything and nothing all at the same time.  There is one issue and one individual, however, in which this is not possible.   As Jesus in Matthew 12:30 states, “He that is not with me is against me.”  There is no neutral ground in the ultimate battle of the universe between God and Satan, as Matthew 6:24 says “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other.  Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
Many in the Christian faith, however, have chosen to serve Satan and manipulate God at the same time, as if God were a foolish child, a dimwitted lover, or a trusting family member they could play games with rather than the all knowing and all powerful being that He is.  Gal 6:7-8 says “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”
Many attempt to enter into a relationship with God on their own terms, rather than His.  They attempt to use God as a Genie, to placate Him into fulfilling their goals with bargains, tricks, and all sorts of games.  In the fourth Chapter of First Samuel, we find the Israelites having no interest in serving God and in fact had not even turned away from serving other gods.  Yet, following a defeat to the Phillistines, they thought they could placate and manipulate God into delivering the Phillistines into their hand.  They brought the Ark of the Covenant out onto the battle field, engaged the Phillistines, and were shocked when 30,000 Israelites lost their lives in the battle.  They learned a harsh lesson that day, that God cannot be manipulated, and that God is not mocked.
1 Sam 7:3-4 says “And Samuel Spoke unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Phillistines.”
Sure enough, the Israelites turned to God in earnesty and obedience, surrendered to him, and they were delivered out of the hands of the philistines.
Fortunately, God is stronger than Satan.  James 4:7 says “Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  What cannot, happen, however, is a relationship with God minus complete surrender to Him. Attempts to have the “upper hand” in the relationship with God only plays into the hand of the devil.  Satan doesn’t care whether or not we know we’re on his side, only that we are counted as lost.  He’s more than happy to allow us to entertain the thought that we are “free agents” and will change sides as opportunities present themselves, as if doing so has no effect on our relationship with God.  It is time for everyone of us to take a look at our relationship with God and make sure we are not attempting to enter it on our own terms, and that we are not playing games with God.  Those are the types of games, after all, that have no winners, only losers.

2 Responses to “God Games”

  1. 1 Jer
    November 3, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    Great post Craig – thanks for your thoughts!

    I am continually amazed at how I play games with God. Objectively, I can’t believe I didn’t stop this behavior a long time ago. However, I still rationalize all kinds of things, from bad attitudes to why I am entertaining impure thoughts. Amazingly, no matter how many games we play, or how many times we try and play games, God is always there to restore us when we return. Therefore, we do well to keep tabs on how we are approaching him, and to repent when we inevitably find that we are once again trying to play by our own rules.

  2. 2 juredivino
    November 4, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Sounds like you would enjoy a course in social game theory, Craig!


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