Sunday, 23 August 2015

I want Pastor Prince's God...(even if it kills me).

Yesterday, I stumbled upon Pastor Prince’s sermonette over the net. It started off with Jeremiah 32:17, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.”

Below is the full extract of his personal interpretation of what that verse means:

“Our minds tend to see our problems as big or small. Even when we pray for the sick, we say things like, “You have a headache? No problem. Let’s pray for your healing.” But when it is cancer, we say, “Oh, let’s tell the senior pastor about it. It would be better if he prayed for you.” We think of headaches as small problems and cancers as big ones.

But that is not the way God thinks. There is nothing too hard for Him who made the heavens and the earth! With God, there is no such thing as a “big” problem. In fact, the “bigger” the problem, the “easier” it is for Him! In the feeding of the 5,000, it took only five loaves to feed the multitude. (Matthew 14:15–21) But in the feeding of the smaller multitude of 4,000, it took seven loaves. (Matthew 15:32–38).

In man’s scheme of things, it should take more loaves to feed more people. But this is not so with God. It took fewer loaves to feed more people. This is God’s way of telling us that the “bigger” the problem, the “easier” it is for Him. I am not saying that small problems are hard for God. But it is so encouraging to think that it is “easier” for God to heal cancers than headaches!”

At this point, honestly, I do not really get the analogy of the feeding of 5000 (referred to as “big problem”) with only five loaves and the feeding of 4000 (referred to as “small problem”) with seven loaves and Pastor Prince’s statement that “this is God’s way of telling us that the “bigger” the problem (feeding 5000), the “easier” it is for Him (only 5 loaves)”. Is it even biblical to deduce/infer a direct proportional relationship between the size of the crowd and the size of the problem and the number of loaves and the level of difficulty in solving the problem? Was that the author’s intention when he penned the biblical accounts? Is this biblical exegesis (drawing the meaning out of a verse) or personal eisegesis (reading one’s own meaning into the verse)?

If it were so, Pastor Prince would have to explain why it took God “more loaves” (presumably harder?) to feed 4000 (presumably smaller problem?). The only touch-and-go explanation he gave was this, “I am not saying that small problems are hard for God.” Nothing further was added to that thereafter. In any event, one might just plunge into a morass of hermeneutical entanglements if one should choose to go down that road. 

But then, to be fair, it’s just a sermonette, a condensed message, and Pastor Prince did caveat the words “bigger” and “easier” with open and close inverted commas. Or maybe it's just a form of sermon illustration and I just need to chill out a little. Mm...

So, let’s read on.

“Imagine coming to God with a big problem. “So, what is your problem, son?” God asks. You say, “Father, it is a huge financial debt — not thousands but millions!” He says, “Easy. It is already cancelled.”

In another scenario, God asks, “So, what is your problem, son?” You say, “Father, I have lost my job and I can’t find a new one. I am already in my fifties and I don’t have the necessary qualifications.” He says, “No problem. Consider yourself employed. And in this new job, you won’t just have a job, you will have a position.”

Beloved, with God, it is never a problem because there is nothing too hard for Him!”

That’s the end of Pastor Prince’s sermonette. Now, here comes the commentary.

As a believer, a jaded one no less, I still think Pastor Prince’s message is both captivating and inspiring. With God, nothing is too hard for Him. Nothing is impossible! How wrong can that triumphant statement be? He is God after all, right?  Imagine all the problems you have - be it a financial ruin, a terminal illness, a deep betrayal of a broken heart - are all resolved and cancelled; just like that. No questions asked. Or your money back – so to speak.

Imagine a world that works that way for believers and only for believers mind you. As Pastor Prince had preached, it is that simple because God only has to ask, “What’s your problem son?” (even though He already knows them, but this is just for dramatic effect) and we just have to tell Him this-and-that and God’s answer would invariably be: “No problem son. Consider it done, cancelled, solved, dealt with, erased, removed, fulfilled, settled.” I presume one can expect no time lag between the sincere petition and the reply. It will be immediate because nothing is too hard for God. Nothing is impossible, remember?

As a believer, I can’t deny that it would indeed be a wonderful, wonderful world. It would be a world only the non-believers would envy to their dry, atheistic bones. I imagine the non-believers would be gatecrashing into churches everyday, and not only on Sunday, rushing down to the altar call even before the message ends, and going on bended knees for hours just so that they could bring their problems to God. Miracles would be dispensed like an overflowing water tap and no one can resist this “No problem” God that Pastor Prince has so wholeheartedly subscribed to. I for one would desperately want to believe in it too – with all sincerity and truth.

But the gatecrashing doesn’t stop there. I would expect not just a worldwide revival of sorts, even in the remotest parts of the world, but an immediate conversion of every soul on earth who is mature enough to say the sinner’s prayer. A God that can cancel debt by a snap of his fingers, find immediate employment at top positions, heal instantly, completely and permanently would be a God that only fools, imbeciles and idiots would reject, rebel and renounce.

As such, atheism and humanism (or agnosticism, even deism) would be the silliest, brain-dead position that any rational being on earth would want to hold on to. A God this miraculously tangible and wonderfully obvious would make everyday reality a reality of “heaven on earth”. Every living being on earth would therefore stand in awe of Him at every waking moments of their lives. Indeed, the God Pastor Prince preaches about would leave all other religions and the gods they worship stranded in the dusty trail, blanketed in the smoke that his God leaves behind.

Now, this is where I end. I think Pastor Prince's God can do no wrong. He is truly perfect. He promises and He delivers. His believers will not go away disappointed, disillusioned or disconsolate. How could they? 

Of course, I can't say whether the believer's everyday reality would unfailingly conform to this triumphant declaration, but at least His God fulfills all the definition we have come to embrace of what an all-powerful and all-loving God should be. The idea itself is impeccable, faultless. In other words, regardless of whether there is a palpable - and sometimes exasperating - disconnect between what is presented behind the pulpit and what is experienced by the believer when he/she has to struggle privately with a reality that's just isn't so, Pastor Prince's God is still the reason why believers are stubbornly clinging on to with uncanny fervor and devotion.

I myself am praying for at least three loved ones in my life, one of whom is my mother, for healing and I sometimes wonder, quite childishly, whether I have cast my lot with the wrong deity when compared to Pastor Prince's awesome God. Or, have I missed the hallelujah train traveling on the radical grace tracks and is now left in the cold licking my wounds of regrets? Alas, maybe there is some ironic truth in this admission that it is better to go to your grave with hope unfulfilled than to go to your grave with no hope at all. And that's the reason why  - in moments of sheer helplessness - I want Pastor Prince's God...even if it kills me. Cheerz.

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