Con Artist


O LORD, you deceived me, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. (Jeremiah 20:7)

Sometimes you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Only God doesn’t tell you that up front. He leads you to believe that signing on the dotted line means a clear path to glory. He leads you to believe that choosing the right thing gets you at least a few recognizable perks on this side of the sweet by and by.

What God doesn’t tell you is that sometimes there is no good news. Sometimes doing what he tells you to do means a bigger pile of crap than if you had just gone your own merry way. Sometimes it doesn’t matter whether you pick Door #1, Door #2, or Door #3. There’s affliction behind every one of them. You do God a favor, and you still end up royally screwed.

The problem is that God holds all the cards. He’s the thermonuclear reactor of the universe who calls all the shots, funds all the projects, and makes all the rules. You can bitch if you want to but it ain’t going to make a bit of difference. He’s not asking for your approval or running for office. So he’s not all that interested in your instant gratification. Oh sure, he loves you and all that, but that only means you’re better off than all those folks who were smart enough to avoid signing the dotted line. If their lives go to hell in a hand-basket, they can at least find a reason for it. But the poor sucker who thought that doing the God thing was his ticket out of Hellville may end up wondering if he’s been sold a bill of goods by Mister You-Can-Trust-Me himself.

So here God tells Jeremiah to rant against his countrymen, to expose their sins and predict their punishment. Jeremiah does what he’s told and gets his teeth kicked in by his audience who insult and reproach him. So then he decides to keep his mouth shut and let the cow chips fall where they may. But when he tries that God stokes in him a serious case of bone-blazing heartburn that Jeremiah cannot endure. So it’s back to the teeth kicking, not because it’s what God wants, but because a shot to the jaw is better than chronic acid indigestion, even if only a little bit.

Jeremiah obviously expected something different than what he got. (I’m guess he assumed there was something good in obeying the head honcho.) But he gets a rude awakening—and he throws the blame for it right in God’s beatific face. “You scammed me, Mr. Does-Not-Lie!” Jeremiah is not saying that he just didn’t get it. He’s accusing God of willful deception, of duplicity, of diabolical double-dealing—hell, of being just like a politician. And the only way God gets away with it is because he’s got a bigger stick than the pathetic Jeremiah. God makes the poor prophet an offer he can’t refuse. It’s divine fraud and extortion rolled up into one big bitter burrito. Talk about your Godfather.

Advice: When you’re dealing with God, be sure to read the really really really fine print. And keep the receipt.


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