Have you ever been called out in Church?
Well, I have — and I’m not talking about being called to witness or lead to an altar call. I mean literally singled out by your priest or pastor in the middle the Church sermon!
“Where’s Jim?” my pastor shouted after awkwardly pausing in the midst of his homily.
Before services, as my wife and I were signing our children up for Religious Ed classes, I questioned my pastor if he could give me the inside scoop on the weekly sermon question. (Each week he would start his sermon with a question.)
This Sunday, he was grumpy and cross. Long story short, he had a bad week — which included what he described as “the wedding from Hell” and, for the first time in weeks, did not prepare a question for this week’s homily.
For full disclosure, I needled him for a’bit which only seemed to make him even more grumpy. So, it seemed, he was now getting even when he called me out!
“As you know, every week I ask a question and Jim asked me before Church if I had a question today. Well, I don’t,” he continued as he marched down the center aisle in my direction. “So, where is he? He usually sits way in the back.”
Finally, he found me.
“There you are,” he sniped. “Here’s my question: Can God do everything?”
I had a feeling it was a set up, but I gave the standard answer anyway.
“Yes, He can,” I boldly replied, though internally I was wishing I could hide.
“Well then, could He make a rock so big that He couldn’t pick it up?” he asked, then quickly moved back up the aisle, like a boxer heading to a neutral corner after landing a knockout punch.
If Christians could curse, I surely would’ve let a few fly that day in Church. Oh, wait. Thanks to Tim Hawkins, Christians can cuss — if we use the right words.
“Shut the front door! You bleeping fart-knocking son of a motherless goat!” Now I feel better! Too bad I didn’t have that comeback prepared back then.
Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling very Christian for the remainder of the homily. For the next 40 minutes, I prayed for God to change my heart, by it was little or no use. I was still pissed off as the Collect exited the pews.
As I left the Church, I slowed as I approached the exit where my pastor cheerfully greeted parishioners as they went forth.
With each step, I prayed and prayed not to seek vengeance or retribution.
“That’s what I get for listening to your homilies,” I joked — or at least tried to the best of my ability.
“Yes,” he laughed seemingly ignorant to the fact that I was brooding.
Funny how God works.
Though memorable for all the wrong reasons, that experience has turned out to be one of the most fruitful in my Christian formation.
Regardless of whether or not God can or cannot make a rock He cannot lift, we learn from scripture, most certainly, that God can NOT do everything.
God cannot be unjust (Hebrews 6:10). God cannot be disorder (1 Cor. 14:33). God cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13)
Above all, the Triune God cannot contradict Himself.
As R.C. Sproul writes, “If contradiction and truth could exist side by side, we would be left with a God whom we could never know or trust. If He did, we could not believe what He says or know how to follow Him.”
So, no God can’t do everything — and isn’t that a most wonderful thing!
James Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, ‘Twas, and the new book series Hail Mary. To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman & McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.