Every lottery drawing plays the game called “Most Lose, Few Win.” The drawing on Wednesday night, December 18, 2013, was but one example. A woman in Georgia bought a single ticket, using family birthdays and “lucky No. 7” to be one of two winners of the $636 million Mega Millions drawing. She chose the $120 million lump sum. A California winner hadn’t come forward as of December 19th. Two tickets with five matching numbers were sold in Chula Vista, San Diego County.
The lottery doesn’t say how many multi-millions chose numbers. It did say that $336 million tickets were sold for the drawing.
Like the athletes Paul wrote about in I Corinthians 10:24-25, “all the runners run, but only one gets the prize.” In the lottery, multiple millions enter but, as in this drawing, but four win, and but two split the mammoth prize.
Christ has a better idea: the offer of grace open to all, the benefits of grace available to all who accept the offer, and the benefits of grace shared equally among all believers, each munificently rewarded, with excess grace available still.
Who wouldn’t be a Christian to possess an offer like that?
The Compromises made by William of Orange in the train of his 1688 Glorious Revolution, and after the debacle Charles II and James II imposed in West Indies and American colonies, renewed the feelings of loyalty to the English crown. It gave them a revived sense of belonging to a great commonwealth of nations under the oversight and protection of a benign sovereign. American Colonies, 285.
The Christian understands those feelings and convictions. We know, like the colonials, that the decisions governing our lives reside with God, not us. That all truth about the kingdom comes from him, not us. That his word, not our opinions, determine what we believe and how we live.
To his will we submit; to obeying his will we commit. We’re not merely inert objects tolerating a despotism we can’t refuse; we consciously and gladly order our thinking and behavior by the Sovereign Lord we welcome as our dictator.
From that relationship we gain and do not lose; in it we prosper and never suffer improverishment. Unlike the worldling who becomes the pawn of his passions, we govern our drives and wants and desires by the Master’s greater power over us. And should we fail to adequately fulfill our charge, he graciously extends forgiveness. In his will we find a faith worth living by, a fellowship worth living in and a cause worth living for. To him, because of the benefits we receive, we yield the most intense sense of loyalty.
“Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie, Which we ascribe to heaven.” Helena in All’s Well that Ends Well, Shakespeare, A1, S1, L235
Solomon said the same in Proverbs 19:3 “A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the Lord.”
While some of us who don’t like Daniel Snyder think he has a right to call his NFL football team whatever he pleases, dozens of Washington, D.C. preachers disagree. They have signed a letter to Snyder and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell urging them to remember that “words can cause great pain”—as an inducement to change the Washington Redskins to something less onerous politically. San Diego U-T, 12/6/13
Leave it to preachers to speak up where they should be quiet and to be still when they should speak up. Do they object to the harshness of the words homosexual, lesbian, gay marriage or same sex couples? Have they signed letters asking these anti-Bible behavior-groups to stop using those terms and to change their lives? And what about other sin they face in their memberships, or in their own lives? Against them do they mention those harsh words Judgment and Hell? Leave it to politically-correct preachers; they ignore their God-given calling to convert lost humans to Jesus Christ for involvement in causes they can champion without offending spiritual rebels.
In her 1864 Diary, written on the family’s journey across the Plains to Oregon, Anna Clinkinbeard tells of a horse breaking free of his owners while the wagons were stopped. The men were not able to harness it once loosed. It charged through the campground, scattering people in all directions. It ran straight at the Clinkinbeard tent and baby Charles lying on the ground directly ahead. The family started toward him but the horse was closer than they. Completely unrestrained, the now terrified as well as wild animal headed straight for the baby, to cause his certain death. However,…inexplicably, as he got to the infant, the horse “stepped carefully and slowly over the baby, then ran madly charging away.” The Paper, 11/28/13
That isn’t the result I remember when, as a boy, seeing dad charging south bound on Union Avenue in Lincoln, Illinois, helpless in a wagon behind two runaway horses. He finally steered them off the road, across a ditch and into some woods, where they stopped. It wasn’t the result I had as a young preacher. While visiting a family in Mt.Vernon, one of the young Morgan daughters, Connie I believe, asked me to accompany her in a buggy ride behind her tame horse. Not long into the ride the tame became a runaway horse with little Connie and me hanging on for dear life until we mercifully ran into the ditch along the road, turned over and threw us out, the horse still dragging the buggy along. The family came running to offer their regret and sympathy. While we were both fine, that was the last time I ever got in a buggy behind a horse.
Like people, animals can’t always be trusted to behave. And, like animals, people when misbehaving are often irrational. God may be talking. That doesn’t mean they’re listening. Or they may be listening. That doesn’t mean they’re anxious and willing to obey.