Not my will, but your will be done

One simple statement from Eve would have spared us thousands of years of misery and madness. If only she’d said, “Not my will, but God’s will be done.”

And think what would have happened if politicians and leaders all through the ages had said that. So when they were tempted into thinking “you can be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5), they said, “No, I don’t want to be a god like God. God is God and his will be done.” 

I could have spared myself a lot of misery and frustration too, if I’d thought, “Not my will, but God’s will be done,” when faced with the incompetence, hypocrisy, bullying and theatrical posturing of so many world leaders. Because Scripture tells me “the authorities that exist have been established by God,” Romans 13:1. So they’re God’s business, not mine, and he will sort them out. As Jesus told Pilate in John 19:11, “You’d have no power over me at all, if it wasn’t given to you from above.”    

But why, then, does God allow evil people to hold office? Genesis fills us in on that one. Offered the chance to know good and evil, we took it. We chose to know evil. And we soon got a taste of it too, as to what it does, how it operates, and the awful things it makes us do to each other. And here we are now, learning exactly the same things about evil. But that’s what we chose. No wonder, then, we end up with leaders who happily sacrifice their people for their own ego driven fantasies. That’s evil for you. That’s what it does.

And there’s nothing we can do about it either. Violent protests, wars, and assassinations may get rid of evil leaders, but there are plenty more to take their place. It never ends. The same old cycle over and over again. And how frustrating when a leader has already done untold damage to his people and his nation, and he still has several more years in office to go. But that’s evil for you; no matter how awful some leaders are they somehow remain in office, like Hitler who survived at least forty two plots to kill him.     

So what are we supposed to learn from all this? Well, God offered an answer to that in the book of Job. God made a deal with Job, that if Job could stop evil “then I God will admit to you that your own right hand can save you,” Job 40:14 (starting in verse 6).     

There’s the challenge, and what leader has succeeded in meeting it? None, because no human leader has a snowball’s chance in hell of stopping evil. That’s God’s point. It’s beyond our human capacity. But leaders keep on promising to “bring in change,” “build back better,” and make their nation great again, and sometimes there is a period of hope and change, but power so often corrupts.  

What hope have any of us got, therefore, especially as the lunacy gets worse, of a nice, normal life without the fear and frustration of another madman dragging us into war or bankruptcy? 

Well, when Jesus was nearing the end of his rope he left us with a way to cope and a way to hope. It was his simple statement to God, “Not my will, but your will be done.” He accepted that, for now, evil must have its way with us humans, because that was God’s will. God “subjected this creation to futility,” Romans 8:20, but “in the hope that” one day we’ll be free of evil forever (verse 21). 

And that’s what got Jesus through the most trying time of his life. And now it’s his will to see us through too. So rather than resort to what I’d like to do about these leaders – let his will be done, not mine.  

Are kings and queens a good idea? 

God’s all for kings and queens – and he said as much in Genesis 1:26-28 when creating male and female humans in his image. In his own words he said “let them rule over” the earth and its creatures. And the Hebrew word for rule, radah (rah-dah), really meant govern or reign. So in Genesis we’re introduced to King Adam and Queen Eve. 

We’re also introduced in Genesis 3 to the problem that royalty has been up against ever since. It’s the evil thought put into their heads that they are more than kings and queens, they are also gods, verse 5. This has led to all sorts of unsavoury behaviour by ruling monarchs, who don’t take kindly to peasants, serfs, plebs and ordinary hard-working folk rising up in protest and demanding change. Such cheek from the “deplorables” has stirred many a reigning monarch to retaliate with violence and severe penalties.  

But God did warn the Israelites who so desperately wanted a king that “This is what the kings who will reign over you will do,” and what follows in 1 Samuel 8 is an eerily accurate description of monarchs through the ages exploiting their people rather than serving them. Not all of them have been that awful, but even a man after God’s own heart, King David, abused his power by having the husband of the woman he wanted killed. 

The history of the monarchy in England hasn’t exactly been prim and proper either. King Charles the first was convicted of high treason in 1649 and had his head chopped off, and kings were actually abolished after that. The Scots, however, proclaimed his son king and crowned him Charles 11 in 1651, but he ended up in exile for nine years after being trounced by the English. Rocky roads for both father and son.  

I wonder how many kings through the ages, therefore, took note of that little gem of advice to monarchy in Proverbs 29:14, that “If a king judges the poor with fairness, his throne will always be secure.”  

Note that it’s his attitude to the less fortunate in his realm that commands respect. He doesn’t treat their cries as an insult, nor does he scuttle off into hiding when his people are driven to protest. “The righteous,” verse 7 – those truly representing God – “care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.” 

It’s such a simple formula that identifies a good monarch from a bad one. And King Solomon, for all his faults, knew that. In Psalm 72:1 he begged God, “Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness,” for with that help from God, verse 12, “he (the king) will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help,” and in verse 13, “he will take pity on the weak and the needy.” 

So with that in mind, are kings and queens a good idea? Yes, because with God’s help they can be a wonderful power for good. “By justice a king gives a country stability,” Proverbs 29:4. He doesn’t divide a country and set people against each other. He unites a country with a simple statement, “Where’s the need and how can we help?”   

Imagine having a king or queen like that. So that when death comes there’s a queue of people stretching back for miles wanting to honour a life humbly lived in service and duty.  

“I will bring judgment on all the gods” 

So said God in Exodus 12:12 in his promise to the Israelites to wrench them free from Egypt. Their freedom, therefore, would come with the destruction of the Egyptian gods. It’s not surprising, then, that the ten plagues God inflicted on the Egyptians each pictured an Egyptian god or goddess – including Pharaoh himself, who was also worshipped as a god. 

God “brought judgment” by turning the gods the Egyptians worshipped against them. The river Nile, for instance, was a manifestation of the god Hapi, greatly celebrated by the Egyptians for bringing life to the land in the rich silt deposited in the annual flood. Imagine the shock in the first plague, then, when God turned the life-giving water of the Nile into blood. Hapi (ironically pronounced ‘happy’) was now a killer.  

With this in mind, then, does God do plagues today to bring judgment on our gods too – and by the same means as well, by turning our gods against us? 

Well, for most of my life I’ve given god-like status to several highly honoured institutions for having my best interests at heart. I watched the nightly news, for instance, believing it was being presented by an honourable profession dedicated to reporting truth. I went to my Doctor, believing that the treatment he or she recommended was based on the expertise of their medical training. I voted for a party and party leader, believing their policies were based on their sincere desire to serve. 

But then along came the Covid 19 virus and what a terrible shock to find out that Big Pharma, Big Tech, along with mainstream media, government officials, medical management and other assorted global influencers, had sold their souls to the devil putting money, greed and profits ahead of accuracy, care and service. And by turning a blind eye to the injuries and fatalities they were causing, it had turned them into killers too. 

They’re not so much “gods” now, are they? They have done irreparable damage to their professions and their prestige, which sounds very much like judgment has been brought upon them too. And not surprising who by either, Romans 1:18, because “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.” And in Romans 2:8, “for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” 

So now where do we turn when our respected institutions cannot be trusted? But could it be that God brought judgment on them to free us from our dependence on them? So at last we realize there is only one source we can trust in, who really does have our best interests at heart. And he’s more than willing to prove that to us when we turn to him for help – just like he did with the Israelites in Egypt. 

“Think on these things…” 

The above is from Philippians 4:8 that “whatever is true and honest, whatever is just, pure, lovely, and of good report, and if there’s anything excellent and worthy of praise, think on these things.”

But how can anyone keep their minds on all eight of those things in a world where so few of those things exist? And especially among the leaders and those who are supposed to be setting us an example too. 

But there is hope, because some really awful, nauseating people in high office can and do repent – like Saul (the future Paul) who switched almost overnight from being a member of the vicious elite that seek to crush those they view as a threat, to becoming a humble, obedient servant totally dedicated to God’s purpose (Acts 26:16-19).  

For me that’s something worth “thinking on,” because if it happened to a blaspheming, violent thug like Saul (1 Timothy 1:13), then what’s to stop it happening to narcissistic, godless thugs in office today too? Saul was a nasty piece of work, like many of the rich elite in our world today who are drunk on power, prestige and money and exerting their weird ideas on us poor plebs, but think instead on the excellence and praise of a God who can knock a power-mad monster like Saul off his high horse in such a way that Saul could respond and repent. 

God was amazing, because he took into account Saul’s “ignorance and unbelief” (verse 13). And even if it was willing ignorance on Saul’s part it did not deter God from “pouring out his grace abundantly” even on “the worst of sinners,” so that we now have this vivid picture in Paul of God’s “unlimited patience” (verse 16). 

For my own mental health that is far more worth thinking on than “doom scrolling” through the madness on the internet that leaves me wondering at times if God is even involved at all in stopping evil. But Paul could say from experience, “Don’t let all that nonsense get to you. Think instead on what God did to the likes of me.” 

And think instead on what God did through Paul too. When Paul was Saul he set his murderous sights on wiping out thousands, but as Paul he became God’s instrument in the salvation of millions. And through Paul God has equipped billions of us through the centuries with the knowledge and means of overcoming the insanity and mind-destroying antics of evil.     

And in Paul we also see Philippians 4:8 being possible, because he was true, honest, just, pure in his motives and a lovely man to know. He loved hearing good reports about others (Colossians 1:3-6), and he gushed in his letters about things excellent and worthy of praise that others had done. Paul could say with relish in Philippians 4:9, then, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice,” because he knew from his own experience that in living such a life “the God of peace will be with you” (verse 9).

And what if our leaders caught on to that too? Well, the hope is always there that they will, because God got to Saul and look what he turned out to be instead. Something worth thinking on – for our own peace of mind as well.  

A Great Reset? How about returning to good old traditional values?

The Great Reset to build a better world is the brainchild of the World Economic Forum and its founder, Klaus Schwab. It gained global infamy from an essay it published in 2016 entitled, “Welcome to 2030: I Own Nothing, Have No Privacy And Life Has Never Been Better.” In it, the writer (Danish MP Ida Auken) states: “You’ll own nothing and you’ll be happy. Whatever you want you’ll rent and it’ll be delivered by drone.” By 2030 she predicts we won’t own a house, a car, appliances or even clothes; they will all be rented to us. And every move we make will be tracked by mass surveillance.

It’s not surprising, then, that Schwab’s Great Reset has been compared to George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which tell of how ordinary people can be made into powerless slaves by oppressive, malevolent dictators.

But Jesus did warn us in Matthew 20:25 that “the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them.” And history is full of them, like the wealthy feudal lords in Medieval England reducing the peasants to mere slaves. But somehow these brutish types weasel themselves into power and get away with exploiting people for their own ends – just like Jesus said they would.

It was jolly refreshing, then, to hear a leader of a political party speak of getting back to “the good old traditional values” our western societies were built on, described by George Orwell in 1939 as the “Judaeo-Christian scheme of morals.” Which is really saying “based on the Bible,” since both Jews and Christians take their cue from Scripture.

As a youngster I was very fortunate to grow up in a village where those scriptural values were part and parcel of the community, thanks a great deal to the little church on the hill where most people gathered every Sunday. But I didn’t realize until I left the village for the big, wide world, what that church did to the village. It created a safe, caring community. We didn’t need to lock our doors, and on arriving back from a two week holiday we found a vase of flowers on the kitchen table. Anyone in need was taken care of, and there were all sorts of clubs catering to those with similar interests and talents.

Such was the influence of a Christian church. But Paul did define church as “the pillar and foundation of the truth,” 1 Timothy 3:15.

“Church,” in other words, is where the truth is being lived – and lived in such a way in ordinary people’s lives it can be seen as right and true. It’s a living prototype of the world as God intended it to be, full of care for each other, where burdens, joys and needs are shared, people’s talents are directed to serving others, and all ages are respected, without the nonsense of divisive social classes.

And isn’t that “the truth” we all desperately wish the entire world would pursue? But that’s what Jesus set up his church for, to be a witness to it being possible – to a Great Reset that really works.

The first to hope in Christ

According to Ephesians 1:12, the Father singled out some to be “the first” to grasp the enormous importance of his Son. Eventually, “all things in heaven and earth” will be brought “together under Christ,” verse 10, but for now it’s just a few.

It’s not because the “few” are anything special. Nor were the Israelites special when God singled them out either. In Deuteronomy 7:7, “The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples.” God’s tendency, then, is to go for the little guys when choosing, not the best players on the team. 

And the same goes for the ones he chooses to be “the first to hope in Christ” too, as Paul rather embarrassingly points out in 1 Corinthians 1:26-28 when he writes, “Consider your calling, how so few of you were clever and talented by worldly standards, and how so few of you were among the powerful or elite. That’s because God chose the foolish, weak and despised, and even things that are not.”  

A noticeable characteristic of the few the Father singles out, therefore, would be humility. They know they’re not the biggest personalities or the life of the party, so it doesn’t surprise them if they’re not eagerly sought out for friendship and advice. “Things that are not,” as Paul wrote, is a fitting description.

But there’s one great advantage to being “a thing that isn’t,” because God loves to show what he can do in “things that are not,” not only to the clever and powerful in society (1 Corinthians 1:27-28), but also to “the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 3:10). 

And what he’s showing all these powerful beings is what happens to people who put their hope in Christ, and what happens to those who don’t. Which becomes more real by the day today, as the ‘powers that be’ give the impression they know what they’re doing, but it’s obvious they haven’t got a clue.    

Some of their solutions offered are bizarre too, like fighting climate change by blocking out the sun with a Brazil-sized raft of bubbles created in space by robots. And yet the chap who suggested this is held in high regard by many world leaders who worship his every word.  

How fortunate we are, then, realizing Jesus is in charge of this planet, not him. And Jesus not only has authority and command over every nation (Daniel 7:14), he also has authority and command over the malevolent forces infecting the global influencers too (Colossians 2:15). And how comforting is that when so many of these global influencers are arrogant control freaks, who sacrifice anything and anyone for power and money? Think of the stresses awaiting us with these people remaining in charge. 

It’s frightening what they might do. Look what they already did in the pandemic. There is no hope in them. But there is in Jesus, because he made an amazing promise in John 14:27: he told the few whom his Father had given him, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

And our Father chose some to believe that, as witness to what happens to those who put their hope in Christ.   

Our citizenship is in heaven

The title above is compared to the previous two verses in Philippians 3:18-19 that speak of those who are “enemies of the cross of Christ,” whose “destiny is destruction, whose god is their stomach and whose glory is in their shame. Their minds are on earthly things.” And that brought Paul to tears (verse 18), because these were professing Christians he was talking about. 

You can almost hear Paul spluttering, “But, but, but,” verse 20, “our citizenship is in heaven, remember?” It’s by heaven’s rules we live by now, pictured by what Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, that “if you want to follow me and be my disciple, then set aside your selfish interests and take up a cross too.” 

Not popular among the Greeks of Paul’s day, though, if the Greek tragedy Cyclops by Euripides is anything to go by, because Cyclops talks of his “belly being the greatest of the gods; for to eat and drink each day….this is the god of wise men.” Imagine having that stuffed into your little Greek head growing up. It was such a sadness to Paul, then, that as adults and Christians their “god was (still) their stomach.” 

It goes to show how much the prevailing culture can mess up a Christian’s head. To Paul the real Greek tragedy, therefore, was having to watch Greek Christians “turning their freedom into an opportunity for the flesh,” Galatians 5:13 (or serving their own appetites, Romans 16:18). 

And how sad was that, when these Greeks had taken the time, and probably taken some heavy flak too, to learn about Christ and practice the self-denial pictured by the cross. They’d made the cross their profession, in other words, which had officially stamped them as citizens of heaven, or as Jesus phrased it, it gave them “a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me,” Acts 26:18.  

How sad, then, that these Christians had allowed the peer pressure and narratives of their culture to make them betray their profession. But how sad is that in our culture too, when all around us politicians, medical advisers, scientists, teachers, professors, lawyers, judges, police chiefs, journalists and mainstream media have also betrayed their professional ethics by ditching the basic tenets of their profession because of peer pressure and money. How sad, when being a doctor, for instance, was such a noble profession, and doctors were held in high regard. But their “glory is now in their shame,” as Paul phrased it, because they’re now regarded – by so many who trusted them – as shameful puppets of their political and corporate paymasters. 

And watching Christians go the same way was what really saddened Paul. 

Because they too had ditched the basic tenets of their profession for the same old “earthly things” (verse 19), the self-centred narratives and ideologies of their culture. How sad, when as citizens of heaven their glory was in sticking to the ethics of their heavenly profession – because, Philippians 3:20-21, it is Jesus, not any human utopian theorist, who has “the power to bring everything under his control,” and “transform our lowly bodies to become like his glorious body.”   

How sad to lose sight of that. 

Is there really a “silver bullet” that could solve our problems? 

A silver bullet is a magical solution to a complicated problem, like getting everyone vaccinated to make everyone safe, or “net zero emissions” to save the planet, or pumping printed money by the multiple trillions into the global system to stimulate the economy.  

But when it comes to solving all our problems, is there a silver bullet for them too? Oh yes, some say, it’s getting rid of capitalism and giving communism another go. Or stopping all this individual freedoms nonsense and concentrating on collective responsibility. Or putting an end to independence and going back to feudalism. And each view has its ardent supporters too, who become petulant and warlike when their version of utopia is met with resistance. Clearly, then, there’s still a problem holding things up, so what might it be?

Well, according to Scripture it isn’t a new world order or a new (or regurgitated) ideology we need for a magical solution, it’s a new human. Which makes sense when the humanity we’ve got has a real issue with wanting control over others, rather than control over oneself. Imagine, then, a world where people did “nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility considered others better than themselves,” Philippians 2:3

Would that work, though? Well, there’s only one way to find out: try it. Do one’s own clinical trial to prove it. That’s how vaccines are tested for their effectiveness and efficacy. Starting with myself, then, what would not being selfishly ambitious, not being vainly conceited, and viewing others as better than me, do exactly?

Well, I cannot help thinking I’d be a rather nice person, and certainly a benefit to the planet. Because I wouldn’t be exploiting people for my own ends or advantage, I wouldn’t be obsessed with making money or fearful of losing it. It wouldn’t worry me if people were better off than me, or were much brainier than me. I’d be happy with who I am and what I’ve got, and not desperately seeking more in possessions, prestige, and popularity. I could happily be “the little guy,” and happy being a humble servant. And not only would I be happy, I bet other people would be happier because of me too. 

Sounds like a silver bullet to me, because expanded on a global scale think of the impact it would have. Well, one day, happily, we’re going to find out, because according to Revelation 21:4, God is going to get rid of “the old order of things” and replace it with a world that will “wipe every tear from people’s eyes.” All problems solved.    

The truth will out 

Both scary and comforting are Jesus’ words in Luke 12:2-3, when he said “There is nothing covered up that won’t be exposed and nothing secret that won’t be made known. And whatever you’ve said in secret in the dark will be brought out into the open (Luke 8:17), and whatever you’ve whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear.” 

In other words, the truth will out. Scary words for those who think they’re too secure in their power and riches to bother about what God thinks. But thoroughly comforting for those who’ve taken Paul’s words to the Athenians seriously, that “In the past God overlooked ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he set a day when he’ll judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. And he’s given proof of this by raising him from the dead,” Acts 17:30-31

Comforting words indeed for those who feel so frustratingly helpless as the rich and powerful treat the planet like their playground, gobbling up resources for their own pleasure, and lying through their teeth that they’re doing it all for us. And what can any of us do? To even question their motives risks being blacklisted, jailed and having everything you’ve worked for stripped away. 

It’s always been this way, of course, the feudalistic few living in luxury, viewing all others as mere playthings and slaves. But amazingly, they can even get people to idolize them and worship their every word too. To challenge the arrogant elite, therefore, risks civil war between their ardent supporters and equally ardent haters. And what on earth can we do about that too, as the world spirals into the age old rise and fall of sociopathic leaders and their pompous delusions of grandeur, soaked in the blood of the powerless?

But the truth will out, because “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given” is the resurrected Christ  “seated at his Father’s right hand in the heavenly realms,” Ephesians 1:20-21, and “God has placed all things under his feet,” verse 22

And Jesus has a way of proving that to be true, because there hasn’t been an empire yet that hasn’t disintegrated into tatters and disappeared forever. And it’s about time that those aspiring for rulership of this planet by craft and cunning realize they’re up against a power far greater than theirs. 

To be told that will, of course, make them angry. It did in David’s day too, stirring him to ask in Psalm 2:1, “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?” Why do the rich and elite act like they’re gods, lashing out at all who dare challenge their loftiness, when “the One enthroned in heaven laughs and scoffs at them,” verse 4. To God, they’re just cartoon villains.

But God does more than scoff; he makes sure the truth will out about them too, because, verse 5, “he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in this wrath when they say, ‘I have installed my King.’” 

Scary words for those plotting a new world order in their image (not God’s), but comforting for those who believe God will “bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ,” Ephesians 1:10.  

“Eve, my dear, we’ve been conned”

I doubt Adam actually said those words, because he wouldn’t have known what a con trick was. But when the creepy serpent lied, Adam wasn’t fooled (1 Timothy 2:14). He knew the serpent was lying. He was the first human to recognize a scam. 

And it’s telling what the scam was, because the serpent told Adam and Eve that eating the fruit of the forbidden tree would not kill them. In other words, the fruit was “perfectly safe.”  

And that was all it took for Eve to eat it, just the word of a serpent saying it was safe. No actual evidence offered that it wouldn’t kill them; no analysis given on the possible side effects of eating the fruit; and certainly no mention of any long term consequences of eating it either. Just eat the fruit, dear, and you’ll be fine. And not just fine, Eve, it’s going to make you feel very wise and god-like eating it as well (Genesis 3:5-6). 

It was quite the claim. Outrageous some might call it, because the serpent was offering no proof that what he was saying was true. So it was a huge risk accepting what he said. But all he had to do was make a claim without any liability on his part for possible adverse effects and injuries – and Eve fell for it. And so did Adam, even when he knew they were being conned. 

And this really concerned Paul, because he recalls this story when talking to a group of Christians. “I’m afraid,” he writes in 2 Corinthians 11:3, “that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray” as well. You mean, Christians can be just as gullible as Eve was?

In Paul’s experience the answer to that was “Yes,” because he’d seen to his dismay that if an obviously questionable message was preached in Corinth “you put up with it easily enough,” verse 4. And that disturbed Paul, because they did nothing about it. They just sat quietly taking it all in, and like Eve they accepted it. It may even have made them feel proud accepting it too (as in 1 Corinthians 5:2). 

And that was worrying for Paul, because if anyone should be sharp and on their toes and have red flags popping up on hearing disinformation (false information deliberately meant to deceive), it would be Christians. Paul was jolly pleased with the Berean church, therefore, because whenever he spoke there “they searched the Scriptures day after day to see if what Paul said was true,” Acts 17:11.

No lazy learners there. They did their homework, and they weren’t influenced by peer pressure either. They stood their ground – unlike the Thessalonians in verses 5-9.

It wasn’t only Paul who was worried, though, because the author of Hebrews had also noticed a connection between Christians drifting away (Hebrews 2:1) and their lack of interest in learning (Hebrews 5:11-13). He then contrasted that in Hebrews 5:14 to Christians who’d made it their practice to ferret out what was true and what was fake. These were Christians, in other words, who knew their stuff, because like the Bereans they were checking everything out, not just blindly accepting it.     

“Checking things out,” then, sounds like a great antidote to being conned. And especially in a world like ours with its present brood of serpents peddling their utopian fantasies.