Reducing God to a Magic 8 Ball

We’re all guilty of doing it.

It’s easy to reduce God to a magic eight ball.

As we approach crossroads in life, we remember, “Oh yeah, I’ve got God.” So we ask our question, shake really hard, and optimistically turn our magic 8 ball over.

Don’t reduce God to a computational machine.

But you may say, “What about knowing God’s will for me? What about knowing what I’m supposed to do? What school to go to? Who to marry?” These are all legitimate concerns no doubt. But they are not all there is to God.

I’m afraid that for many God has become the divine, cosmic version of Google? Or just a more polished and sophisticated Siri?

Early in our Christian life it’s quite natural to be like this. And since God is gracious and cares for us, we receive answers.

But the problem is we become preoccupied with knowing. We become preoccupied with doing. We want to know someTHING more than know the someONE living inside us. This becomes an issue to God, because He is preoccupied with dispensing Himself into us, mingling with us, and being expressed through us, not just answering all queries, erasing all ambiguities, or solving all problems.

This comes back to God’s purpose. God’s will for God’s life. Missio Dei.

God is out to get something for Himself, not just be the all-powerful, all-knowing, benevolent, personal assistant.

God has anointed Christ to accomplish His eternal purpose. I think it would be understatement even to say this is a monumental task. The title Christ means “the anointed One.” Christ then is the anointing One to us because we become joined to Him and share in His anointing (2 Corinthians 1:21, Hebrews 1:9). Thus we share in the commission to accomplish God’s economy- missiones ecclesiae. Ultimately, Christ as the Spirit within us becomes the anointing itself.

And as for you, the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone teach you; but as His anointing teaches you concerning all things and is true and is not a lie, and even as it has taught you, abide in Him.

-1 John 2:27

This brings us full circle. The anointing teaches us. Say we want to know something practical about what we should do, where we should go, how our life fits in with the grand design of God’s will. No one in this boat right?

Well, sometimes God temporarily doesn’t respond to our requests for information (aka prayers)  because He wants to have an opportunity to “paint” us with the anointing. God teaches us most often not by “saying” green but by “painting” green within us. This requires us to spend time with the Painter so that He can paint His thought, feeling, and intent into us. The more time we spend with Him under the anointing, the more we will be clear about “all things.”

Otherwise, why didn’t God give all the answers in the Bible? Number 1) it would produce an unwieldy Bible that no one would lug around. Number 2) He withholds information so that we would spend time with Him to experience the anointing.

In the end, the primary concern God has is not whether or not we make mistakes or misinterpret inner feelings concerning the practical side of God’s will in our life. He is concerned about how much paint, aka God, we have received.

The test of everything with us will be: How much of God really came in by our having been here? …How much of it results in more of God- not more of knowledge, not more of mental apprehension, but how much more of God.

-T. Austin-Sparks

We shouldn’t view our life as a Choose Your Own Adventure book where the goal is just to endlessly flip to the correct page. And we shouldn’t view God as the all knowing answer orb. God’s purpose is to become one with man, not just in an abstract theological way, but actually, in real situations.

So sometimes God leaves the problem, predicament, or perplexity just so we need Him and He has an opportunity to paint us a little more with God.

18 thoughts on “Reducing God to a Magic 8 Ball

  1. Wow…thanks for sharing this. It’s so true. God never meant for us to know all the answers so we can lead a mistake-free, perfect life. He wants us to know Him. Too many times I’ve asked the Lord, “What should I do?” looking for a quick answer when what He really wants is for me to spend time with Him receiving His anointing. And as the Lord says in Matthew 6, “your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” He knows what you want, but He still needs you to come to Him.

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    • Thanks! To me this is a paradigm shift in understanding prayer, God, and man’s relationship to God. God doesn’t want to just GIVE us everything. He wants to BE everything to us.

      Love the connection with Matthew 6 too!

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  2. Amen, brother, I’ve been thinking of this matter a lot these days. Is God here for us to ask Him our questions when we need to? Many people – most people think so. But according to God’s word in the Bible He wants to be one with us – even in the details of our daily life. The easiest thing is to “go to God when you need to” and then forget about it; the most difficult thing, something which both man and Satan dreads, is developing a personal relationship with God in which God is dispensing Himself into us and is answering our questions in our intimate and sweet fellowship with Him!

    Why would people choose rather a complicated way to approach God instead of developing a personal relationship with Him? Even us as believers – it is so easy to “forget about God” and “remember God when we need Him”… we need to learn to pay attention to the sweet anointing within, the sense of life and peace, the Spirit mingled with our spirit moving in us and anointing us to subjectively know all things in fellowship with Him…

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    • Glad to hear I’m not the only one thinking about this! You’re right about details- that’s often my trouble. But the saying is true, “God is in the details.” You mentioned God’s dispensing. I’m reminded that God’s dispensing requires an arrangement- God’s economy. Matthew 14 for instance. The Lord had an arrangement for feeding the 5,000 with the bread and fish. If you didn’t accept the arrangement you didn’t get fed. Part of the arrangement was that the disciples fed the people. What if you were in Judas’ group? You may have wanted to switch groups. Like, “I don’t know Lord, I’m getting bad vibes from this guy. Can’t I switch to John’s group?” Well the Lord knows what we need to cause us to open to the life supply. I’m learning not to kick against the arrangement.

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  3. > Why didn’t God give us all the answers in the Bible?

    This entry reminds me of a RV footnote made into a song, which you can find here on hymnal.net. If I remember right, it comes from the story of Abraham. Heb 11:8 says, “By faith Abraham, being called, obeyed to go… and he went out, not knowing where he was going.” This is one of my favorite verses. God does not give us a roadmap, but expects us to go forth. If we had a roadmap, we would be independent from God. Rather, He forces us to have many conversations with Him. That is what He really desires, that we spend much time talking to Him, face to face. You said it really well:
    God teaches us most often not by “saying” green but by “painting” green within us. This requires us to spend time with the Painter so that He can paint His thought, feeling, and intent into us.

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  4. I really like this, thanks. It is good to be reminded that we need to contact the Lord Himself and not just seek for answers. Then, before we get the answer, we get the Answer!

    And I also appreciated from your sharing that the way He does answer us is by the anointing – painting us with Himself, His thoughts, feelings, and intentions.

    I read another interesting post recently about paint: http://drod55.wordpress.com/2011/09/17/transformers-more-than-meets-the-eye/

    And one of my upcoming posts will be somewhat related to painting also. So I’ll be linking to both your post and the one above!

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  5. Haha, I remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books from middle school. I’m glad that God wants more than that for our lives. He wants to make us one with Him.

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  6. Yes, may the Lord turn us from knowing someTHING to knowing the someONE inside of us. Only in this way can God fulfill His purpose. May this be our longing and prayer, “to know Him…” (Phil. 3:10).

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    • When we meet the Lord in the next age we will either get all the answers to life’s mysteries OR we will not care anymore because we will have something so much greater- God Himself.

      This reminds me of that line from an A.B. Simpson hymn: “once the gift I wanted, now the Giver own.”

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    • I need constant reminder of this Diana. Thanks!

      “It does not matter what your personal deficiency, or whether it be a hundred and one different things, God has always one sufficient answer, His Son Jesus Christ, and He is the answer to every human need.” -Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life

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  7. “God’s purpose is to become one with man, not just in an abstract theological way, but actually, in real situations.”

    I remembered the passage that says, the Triune God is not for us to understand but to enjoy.

    Many times i come to ponder what the Lord’s will really is for me and whether i was satisfying Him or not. I was trying to understand, but it wasn’t what the Lord really wanted. Rather than making me understand, the Lord is dispensing. I was so reminded that the Lord is way beyond being a personal assistant – answering all the questions – but rather a Painter, who paints Himself – HIs thought, feeling, and intent – into me. As a student, I often fall into the trap of reasoning and introspection. May the Lord rekindle my first love to Him that I may have more time to enjoy His anointing!

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    • Sounds like you’re on the right track! We’re all prey to second guessing our interpretation of the leading in our spirit. Life and peace is always a safe path to follow though. Fellowshipping with other believers is also a safeguard. At the end of Acts, Paul went against the fellowship of different members of the Body 5 times. It got him into trouble. But even here God is sovereign and used this mistake for His purpose.

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