"But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, and say, 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.' For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon!' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds" (Matthew 11:16-19).

Often God is in a "no win" situation. We simply do not look at situations as does God. Compare John the baptizer's ministry [through which God worked] and Jesus' ministry [through which God also worked].

Without question God sent John for a specific ministry. He was born by God's special act (Luke 1:5-20). The Lord's hand was with him (Luke 1:66). As soon as he was old enough, he lived in the desert (Luke 1:80). He wore strange clothing and ate a strange diet (Mark 1:6). He did not go into the towns with his message. People came into the wilderness to hear him (Matthew 3:5,6).

Without question God sent Jesus for a specific ministry. He, too, was born by God's special act (Matthew 1:18-25). The Lord's hand also was with him (Luke 2:40). However, Jesus dressed as common people dressed. He lived in towns. His diet was common people's diet. He took his message to the people.

Most of the religious leadership refused to take John or his message seriously. He was weird! He was a recluse! God would not work through a weird man like John!

Most of the religious leadership refused to take Jesus or his message seriously. He was common! He lacked proper academic credentials! He associated with the wrong kind of people! Obviously God would not work through someone who ate instead of fasting and drank like Jesus drank! Besides, Jesus associated with the wrong kind of people!

Jesus' observation: "You people are incredibly fickle! No matter what God did to inform you, you say He was wrong! Though God sent both John and me to achieve the same purpose, you say we are from the devil--John because he is weird; me because I am common. The time will come when God's wisdom is recognized in both of us! The time will come when you will recognize people are the fickle ones--not God!"

The irony: people supposedly belonging to God could not see God at work in John or Jesus. God's ways are not our ways. His values are not our values. His purposes are not our purposes. His priorities are not our priorities.

Our goal: (1) never force God to conform to our expectations [that is idolatry]; (2) always let God form our expectations [that is revelation in Jesus].

Questions: Do your expectations keep you from seeing God at work? Are God's ways, values, purposes, and priorities obvious in your daily life because it is dedicated to reflecting who God is and what God is about? Do you declare God's work a work of the devil because your expectations are more important than God's priorities?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 4 April 2004

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