After Easter.3 —Now What? — Fat Chance

by admin on April 28, 2015

Reflections for 26 April 2015
Acts 1:15-17;21-26

I went to the casino a week ago to watch the fun. Sure enough lights and bells went off, signaling somebody won something. Was it a fat chance, fate, karma, coincidence? God’s will?

Chance is part of everyday life. The science of probability is called statistical analysis—stats, the dreaded class of grad school—statistics is the study of chance. We call it by a more common name, lotto and blackjack; bingo and slots. That’s the study of fat chance.

Couple of years ago…Florida lotto won by couple who prayed over every ticket…40 of them. Then they placed them in the family Bible on the TV. They won! Winning ticket was the one closet to the Bible. There you have it.

Newspaper: “Florida lotto answer to couple’s prayer” The winner: “It’s more than just buying the ticket”

This question: Is Christian understanding of chance “just add a quick prayer?” Stats tell us chances of winning about the same regardless if you buy a ticket or not.

If we mix prayer with chance do we get God’s choice? How do we understand those everyday moments of chance? How we understand them can determine our captivity or freedom in the world and our idea of God, too.

Chance always leads to a victim. A victim, of course, can:
—blame others
—live in unhappy exile
—be free from responsibility

TEXT: We hear about a vacancy in the 12 apostles. Judas having resigned, they now need 12. There is a necessity for a full compliment of disciples/apostles so that the mission of Jesus can continue.

What I find intriguing here is that they played with chance—played the numbers, shot craps, drew straws. Why? To institute the first parish Las Vegas night? They tried to be humanly impartial to underscore God’s direction.

What is God’s direction here? The choice of Matthias? Or that Jesus mission continue?

We can run into lots of dead ends if we use the rule “God’s will”: to govern each particular and singular event in life. Where is the one special person God has picked out for me? I sure hope she doesn’t live in Australia. Where is that one special job divinely hand-picked for me? I sure hope it’s got a six-figure salary. And where is that one special parking space God has appointed just for me…close to the mall doors I hope.

Bible today underlines a higher, larger story. Matthias alone isn’t who is important; but what is— is how his selection enabled the bigger story of Jesus to continue. The bigger story of Jesus is that he is the salvation of the world.

Meaning, purpose integrity in life are all met in this man. The apostles, of whom Matthias now becomes a member, are witnesses to this. Here’s an interesting thought: Church leadership is based not on who wins an election but whose life can witness to the person of Jesus.

Isn’t this the Biblical idea of a church council/vestry/leadership team? Not to worry too much over wall paint in the bathroom but being the spiritual leaders of the faith community.

Lots of people talk about being inside God’s will—a sort of inside track, a kind of privileged place with the latest scoop. Spiritual high achievers I call them. Those who know their divinely appointed parking space at Marshall Fields make the rest of us stuck out at Odd Lots look spiritually challenged.

God’s will, his choice, with the roll of the dice cannot be understood outside of Jesus Christ. It’s the mission of Jesus at stake here, not Matthias retirement plan.

How does our living, our actions, our deeds, words, the way we think witness to and reflect Christ’s resurrection?

Is this resurrection stuff a myth? Historical fact? Transforming reality? Resurrection is what Christianity is about. Not at the end of life, or end of time…but now.

I think it speaks volumes about how Jesus is so popular. Our culture is desperately searching for something that is spiritually authentic and real. Jesus is now almost one of the guys—just a step higher.

We want to have Jesus, but want him on our terms: without church, without theology, without all the reflection of Christian tradition. And certainly without any governing connection to what I do with the rest of my week outside Sunday mornings.

Lots of books, videos, DVDs, and films out there about Jesus—lots of information; lots of ideas and thinking. Jesus the wise teacher and healer of hurts. But savior of the world? And this resurrection stuff? Nada.

The Bible tells us that the mission of Jesus and of every disciple, ancient or modern, is to be a witness to resurrection power. God is in the transformation business and able to move in and through all the life’s circumstances.

Do you believe in chance….or Jesus? The whole idea of chance is a popular theology. In fact, “luck” as a concept is a secular version of faith.

The tourist destination in Rossford or the buses loaded for Greektown and Windsor, aside from the recreational fun, are guided by luck. It is faith in fate, in chance and in the cleverness of figuring out the probabilities.

At its heart, gambling is the belief that work is making an inordinate amount of money with the minimum amount of effort. Is this the true religion of America? Or is there something better on which to bet your life.

Bill Hybels: Who You are when no one’s Looking. The more I learn about Jesus Christ, the more I love him. I realize he is worthy of all my adoration, devotion and praise; he is worthy of my whole life’s service. He want to make me part of his family and give me the character qualities I need in order to live obediently, successfully and happily, now and forever. You can’t get that at a casino, nor in fat chance thinking.

Chance? Or Jesus? I don’t believe in karma, que sera sera, fate, coincidence, or even a pre-determined, predestined universe with everything carefully planed out. We can only believe and trust in the person of Jesus Christ, who is God’s grace in the flesh.

That kind of grace works to free us from victimhood;
—Empowers us toward healthy and life giving relationships;
—And makes love a living reality

Was Matthias’ “election” a good thing governed by fat chance? When considered only in relationship with himself, probably not—he got killed for his efforts.

Good things and bad things can’t be understood only in reference to anyone of us. There is a bigger picture, a larger story, a resurrection witness. Jesus is on the loose and it isn’t just a coincidence.

All of our fabulous successes and glaring shortcomings are taken up into the broken body of God’s love, Jesus. In him there is no chance—only God’s determined love forever.

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