Unfortunately I’ve been scammed more than once. It has happened when a thief has played me for a sucker. After the fact I prayed, “Lord how can I get out of this?”
At the time my weariness caused my head to spin, my back to ache and my heart to hurt. I was so sick and tired of being sick and tired yet also, seemingly, I was powerless to change my circumstance. But fortunately, little by little, I began to see what was going on. I started recognizing how I was being hooked into going along with a scam that I didn’t want to be involved with. What I had to learn is not to cooperate with the scammer.
Let me ask you, how do you have life figured out? What’s going on? I imagine we all have some theory about what’s happening in our world. Also, I’m sure we all try to devise a sound plan to avoid being conned.
At any rate I now believe I possess everything I need to save me from being scammed. The secret really isn’t a secret, it has been known—but often unused—for at least a couple thousand years. Notice, it’s succinctly wrapped up and delivered in less than twenty words and is available to anyone. Think through this answer to what’s going on: The thief’s purpose is to steal, kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness. Jesus said this in John 10:10 of your Bible.
Here’s how it works out
I told you it wasn’t a secret. But, again, this doesn’t mean I knew how to apply it or how to make it work in my day-to-day. So I stumbled on this Bible verse and then became convinced the problem and solution to avoiding a scam is laid out in these two sentences. John 10:10a is the first sentence describing how a scam operates: “The thief’s purpose is to steal, kill and destroy.” Steal, kill and destroy what? In the big picture: Intimacy. Furthermore, though I’ve been a slow learner, I’m finding this intimacy covers three main areas. And these three areas affect every aspect of my life.
I’m saying the thief is running three scams. The first intimacy scam I call: Disrespect for God.
I must admit that when I detected these words from John 10:10 God wasn’t a stranger to me. I told everyone, “I believe in God.” Obviously, I was sure I had a relationship with God. But, honestly, you could see my connection with God wasn’t especially tight. Consequently the thief, through various temptations, kept scamming me. I was the bug firmly stuck in the spider’s sticky web. However, although I behaved ignorantly, I at last, began to realize the scam effectively conned me out of intimacy with God and moved me to a place I regretted.
Allow me to give you an simple example. Frequently whenever a circumstance came up, instead of talking the situation over with the Lord, I attempted to work it out on my own. It could be anything, even my plan for my day. On my things to do list, for instance, I’d put down what I reasoned was necessary to make my day a winner: 1) drink my morning cup of coffee. 2) go to (school, work, the grocery store). Or, (wash the car, call or email or text whomever, eat lunch and dinner). 3) relax before bedtime (by watching the game, reading my novel, passing time with my hobby). Sadly, no where on my list would you read “spend time with God.” Isn’t that disrespectful? Try ignoring your spouse today and then email me how that turned out for you. And, this is just one example.
What was accomplished?
Disrespecting God isn’t anything new. With a few moments of research I observed that this scam has been playing itself out since the Garden of Eden. Therefore, disrespect for God accomplishes this, it severs the connection with our Creator. Clearly, in John 10:10 language, it robs us of our intimacy with God. In fact, it kills our intimacy with God. Moreover it destroys our intimacy with God. It’s still happening.
In Eden the scam unfolded like this: 1) The scam questioned truth and planted a seed of reasonable doubt. “Did God really say,’you must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2) The scam twists truth and cleverly substitutes a lie. “No, you will not die.” 3) The scam challenges truth with empty promises. “You’ll be like God.”
Is disrespecting God really that critical? Well reflect on this: isn’t it true that if you love someone you want to spend as much time with them as you possibly can? I do. So I saw this scam successfully interfered with my desire to be close to God. No, I didn’t purposely imagine I was disrespecting God. I simply didn’t include God in my daily routine; thus, God was present, but neglected—thus, not significant.
The thief used a similar plan of action on Jesus in the wilderness. The thief said, “If you’re God’s Son you have the authority and power to turn these stones into bread.” (Question of truth and seed of doubt). Then the thief said, “Jump! God’s got your back.” (Substitute truth with a plausible lie). Finally the thief said, “I can give you everything you want.” (Empty promises). Of course the thief failed. But the thief tried to persuade Jesus to accept that he didn’t need God, that he could go it alone.
Obviously, Jesus passed this wilderness test because he didn’t play the thief’s game. We don’t need to either. Jesus recognized the scam. Still I wondered, how do I make this my reality? Naturally the simple answer is, Jesus. However, this is the part of John 10:10 I’d have to say I’m less familiar with. I’m somewhat familiar with how the thief tricks me into a scam but I’m less familiar with how Jesus rescues me from a scam and supplies me “life in all its fulness.” Well it’s finally dawning on me that abundant life begins by respecting God.
Let me offer you a little more to chew on. Job experienced a lot of conflict in his life, much more than I have. In Job 28;28 it is written, “Then he [God] said to humans, ‘To fear and respect the Lord is wisdom. To turn away from evil is understanding.’” (ERV, Easy-to-Read version).
Okay so in order to prevent a scam I must respect God and turn away from evil. Respect is more than the smart thing to do—it’s wisdom. On my own this wouldn’t be possible for me to achieve, but again, here’s the solution: Jesus has done everything that needs to be done and offers you and me a choice of life in all its fulness. Instead of being scammed by the thief I am able to choose life now and life forever. So, why would I hesitate to choose life in all its fulness?
One reason for me was because I had a suspicion God would take my fun away. Meaning what? For me it meant I might have to be in church all the time and learn to play a harp. Or I’d have to serve God in a forgotten place that no one cared about. Or that I couldn’t party anymore. This scared me. This made me waver because I thought I knew better than God what defined fun. I didn’t. And in review, I now see this confused thinking came straight from John 10:10a.
Scam #1 is disrespect for God. Disrespect for God not only disconnects my relationship with God but also disrupts the life I desire to experience with myself and others. Yet, when I redefine “fun” as allowing God to love me, and then loving God in return, my intimacy with God moves to a new dimension, beginning with respect. This new dimension embraces life in all its fulness. What did I do? I chose life over death. What should you do? Choose life. Stop accepting lies as truth. Abandon John 10:10a for John 10:10b. Exposing scam #1 sets you up to undo scam #2: Disrespecting you. Your intimate relationship with God is vital to your intimacy with yourself. I’d like to say something to you about scam #2 next.
(To be continued in Part 2).