Testy Testy


Jesus answered, It says: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Luke 4:12)

This is plain unfair.  God tests us all the time.  The Bible is crammed with examples.  God tested Abraham.  He air-dropped manna on the Israelites to “test them” to see if they would “follow my instructions.”  At the big show on Mount Sinai, Moses tells the people that “God has come to test you.”  Jesus isn’t above giving a pop quiz either.  He asks Philip where they’re going to get food to feed the hungry mob “only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.”  Paul says point-blank that God “tests our hearts.”

But just try to administer a little test on God and you’ve got yourself one miffed deity.  We’re talking fire and brimstone.  Even an easy quiz could get you axed from the Promised Land.  Jesus didn’t exactly take to exam week either.  Satan’s assessment test (SAT) went over like a lead balloon.  The Pharisees (who were only asking Jesus for a simple miracle or two) got a weather report instead.  If Jesus couldn’t pull one off, he should have just said so.  Everybody can have a bad day.

There are a couple of exceptions.  God says we can test him to see if he will bless us if we pay him ten percent of our income.  It seems when it comes to money, even God’s got to show a solid rate of return.  Then, in another place, Saint John tells us to “test the spirits.”  Unfortunately it’s only a one-point, true/false question: Did Jesus come in the flesh?  If the spirit answers yes he gets a perfect score.  If the spirit answers no he flunks.  I’m not sure how effective that is.  Even stupid spirits have a fifty-fifty chance of getting it right.  That might explain a lot of things.

So if you want to stay on God’s good side don’t give him a test.  It’s probably better to ask him what kind of grade he thinks he should get, though he tends to rank himself pretty high.  Still, he’s a good learner most of the time, and if he doesn’t get something right the first time, he has been known to try again (Mark 8:23-25).  My report card for God so far indicates that he is highly motivated, with great potential for success; is generally articulate but can lapse into obscurities; has perfect attendance (though I’ve had to take his word on this); and has excellent hygiene practices.

(He really needs to cut down on the red meat though.)


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