When I was a growing up, I remember a popular television show about an astronaut who, upon returning to earth from a space mission, discovered a bottle on the beach which contained a genie. The running plot of the show consist of the various magical antics this genie would perform, attempting to please her master, while all the while, her master was trying to conceal her real identity from the outside world.
Well, it seems as though many so-called Christians today have the God of the Bible confused with the genie in the bottle! You see, when Major Nelson (the astronaut) didn’t want Jeannie to interfere in his life, he would order her to go back into her bottle and then he would put the cap on it so that she couldn’t get out. Too many people want the blessings of God, they want Him to perform various tasks and miracles in their lives, but after God has done those things, they do not want any interference from Him in their lives! They want Him back in the bottle, so as not to place any demands upon their lives!
There is even a theology being espoused today that suggests that God is like the genie in the bottle. This theology has man as its center and not God. This theology suggests that we can in fact order God around and manipulate him with our faith, our prayers and our praises. But the fact of the matter is this: The God of the Bible is NOT like the genie in the bottle! We were created to serve Him: He was not created to serve us! We can’t order Him around, nor can we manipulate Him with our faith, prayers and praises. There is no real correlation between praises going up and blessings coming down! The God of the Bible will not suspend His agenda or His will in favor of ours!
The name of the show was: “I Dream of Jeannie!” And I would like to suggest that those who advocate, adhere to, and believe in the theology I just described, are just dreaming! The God of the Bible is NOT like the genie in a bottle! We have no power or authority over HIM! It is He who has made us; we didn’t make HIM! Therefore, the real question is not what can God do for us; but rather what is His will for our lives? What is His purpose for our sojourn on this third rock from the sun? Our daily prayer should always be: “Thy Kingdom come! Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven!
Who are you serving? Who are you praying to? Is it the Genie in the bottle or the God of the Bible?
The Biblical writer of the book of Jude encouraged his readers to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” But, as I look around the landscape of Christendom today, I can’t help but wonder if what much of what is being passed off as faith actually faith at all. It seems to me that many today are confusing faith with magic! Let me show you what I’m talking about: Today, there seems to be a pervasive misunderstanding and misapplication of the name of Jesus. People do anything or say anything and then claim they are saying or doing it in the name of Jesus. But it’s really not in the name of Jesus just because we say it or do it and then utter the words: “In the name of Jesus.” Saying the words: “In the name of Jesus” is not some magical formula like: “Open-says-a-me” or “Abra-ca-dab-bra.” To say or do anything in the name of Jesus is to say or do whatever is consistent with the character and actions of Jesus as revealed in the Bible. In other words, we can only say or do in the name of Jesus that which Jesus would have said or done himself. Therefore, we can’t steal, lie or kill in the name of Jesus because those things are inconsistent with the character and actions of Jesus.
The Bible say that we (believers) have been authorized to use his name in a fashion that is similar to what is known as the power of attorney. If you have been given the power of attorney, that means you have been legally authorized to act, speak or transact business on behalf of the person who gave you the power of attorney. Therefore, in exercising the power of attorney given to you, whatever business you transact on that person’s behalf, the law looks at that transaction as if the person actually did it themselves. In like manner, whatever we do or say in the name of Jesus, it is as if Jesus is doing it himself. But to do or say something inconsistent with the character and actions of Jesus and claim to be doing or saying it in his name is not an exercise of faith; it is an exercise of the futile use of magic!
To pray for something that is inconsistent with God’s will, saying the words; in the name of Jesus, is not an exercise of faith; it is an attempt to use magic! Now, the reason so many people are attempting to use magic rather than faith is because many actually have faith in faith instead of having faith in God! It is not enough to “just have faith.” The faith we have must be grounded in the truth of God’s word! We can have the faith; but is it God’s will? It could be God’s will; but do we really have faith? And what is the motivation for our request of healing or blessing or anything we ask of God? Is it merely for our comfort? Or is it for His glory?
Now this was by no means an attempt to analyze this question in a deep exegetical manner, just a few thoughts to help us to stop and really think about what we say and do on a consistent basis; “in the name of Jesus.” The question is: Is it faith or is it magic?