Do We Try to Manage God?

by Ted Kyle

Peter, the soon-to-be Apostle, was a natural-born leader and he exercised this gift among the little group of disciples which followed Jesus of Nazareth. And on at least one occasion Peter tried to manage his Lord.

The account is in Mark 8:31-33, on the occasion of Jesus' opening His mind to His followers about His real mission to planet earth: that He must die, and afterward rise again. The Savior's words obviously troubled the group, but it was their leader, Peter, who took it upon himself to "talk sense" to Jesus.

See the scene: Peter has led his Lord aside and is talking with unusual animation, even for him. We don't know what Peter's arguments were: perhaps he reasoned with Jesus that folks-even His little flock-want to follow a winner, not a loser.

But notice the rest of the disciples: they are straining to hear what is being said. We could even suppose that they have put Peter up to this confrontation. In any event, they are vitally interested in the outcome.

And our Lord was well aware of the dynamics of this situation. Our text (v. 33) says: "But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter…."

When Jesus Christ rebuked Peter, He was not speaking to Peter as a solitary individual, but as a member and leader of a group; and Jesus' words were intended for the onlookers every bit as much as for Peter: "Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men."

The lesson is recorded for us and for all time: Don't try to manage God!

Yet we are constantly tempted to do exactly that. Whenever we follow the teachings of men-even leaders we revere-in preference to the teachings of God, we are trying to manage God. When we "adapt" the Bible and its principles to make them more palatable, we are attempting to harness God to our wagon.

May our Savior's words always remind us, on every such occasion, that to seek to manage God is to stand in Satan's stead.