What is God’s Job?
Almost every job has both written and unwritten expectations. Promotions and raises are often given not for performing written expectations well but for performing above and beyond. Performing well allows you to keep your job unless someone comes along who can do it better. Underperform and it’s time to update the resume.
There’s a feeling of disrespect to even ask about God’s job. Like that pit in the stomach moment a teenager experiences after replying, “Why can’t you do it?” to the parent who asks him to mow the yard.
Yet Christian theology has categories for it: the person and work of Jesus Christ and the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Believers talk about it in terms of what they expect God to do and not do. The majority of prayers are requests for God to do something for us. The expectation is that he’ll deliver. Once we experience something from God (or attribute it to God), we expect him to do the same thing again either for us or others. While it’s not in writing, it’s pretty clear we have unwritten job descriptions for God.
It didn’t start with us. Jesus healed, performed miracles and cast out demons but not for everyone. In fact, Jesus often chose to produce none of these. He passed on many opportunities to deliver the goods, much to the disappointment of His followers. They had a laundry list of expectations of the Messiah that went unmet. Many people “fired” Jesus by simply walking away.
Many of us approach God the same way. He can be our God as long as he performs well: watches over us, will deliver what we want and need when we ask for help, has minimal expectations of us but isn’t so harsh to punish us if we fail to deliver on those and makes us feel good about ourselves. Making God in our image in this way seems to put us in the role of being God’s boss. While we wouldn’t say we’ve “fired” God over unmet expectations, how many of us have simply walked away?
In their book, Jesus Manifesto, Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola comment on God’s responsibilities. They say that He isn’t “so much about fixing things that have gone wrong in our lives as He is about finding us in our brokenness and giving us Christ (p. 2).” And Christ’s job description as given to Him by God was simple and clear: to give life (cf), to meet humanity in the midst of broken and messy life and breathe into it a vision of hope, purpose, and eternity. Sounds a lot more interesting than simply fixing everyone’s problems.
If you’ve ever felt as though your company or church wasn’t utilizing the very best of what you had to offer, you can understand where this is going. When we rely on God to simply be a handyman, we’re missing out on the best He has to give. Yes, what He gives requires something in return. Life, the most expensive and beautiful gift ever given requires that we receive it and live it the way He asks.
There’s a passage in the Bible that asks us to give God a try. It says to “taste and see that the Lord is Good” (Psalm 34:8, NLT). Put another way, accept what He’s giving and see that He’ll exceed all your wildest expectations.
Jack Radcliffe is a husband and father of four, Coach (www.redwoodcoach.com), a seminar presenter for Parenteen (www.parenteen.com) ministry consultant with Youth Ministry Architects in Nashville, TN, Dean of The Youth Ministry Institute of the Tennessee Conference UMC and adjunct professor at Martin Methodist College. He has an MDiv from Ashland Theological Seminary in Ohio and a DMin in Practical Theology, Adolescent Development and Culture from Fuller Theological Seminary.