Posted in theology

Negotiating with God

By Elizabeth Prata

In the early 2000’s, Priceline, the discount travel outfit, produced a series of ads starring William Shatner as “The Priceline Negotiator.” You’d see him negotiating for lower prices on hotels, air flights, and so on. They were funny ads. C’mon, you’re hearing the jingle in your head right now, aren’t you 😉

I’ve never been good at negotiating. I’ve always been intimidated by it. Even where it was expected, like in places abroad where I’ve traveled, I didn’t bargain and I just always paid the price set.

I think most of us are familiar with the verse from James 2:19 that says, You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.

The word shudder in the Greek means ‘ to shiver from fear’. The demons knew that Jesus was the Holy One of God, they knew His power and might and authority. They know. They just don’t care. They do not obey.

And yet, not only do they disobey, they negotiate with him! See this verse from Matthew 8:31. It’s the scene where the demoniacs of Gadarene were terrorizing the people. Because they were so violent, no one could pass that way. Jesus had arrived and the demons immediately took notice. They knew His authority, but they still tried to negotiate!

And the demons begged Him, saying, “If You are going to cast us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”

And this from Luke 8:31,

And they were begging Him not to command them to go away into the abyss.

The demons knew Jesus had authority to do with them as He pleased, they knew it.

In Luke 4:34 we read in another scene where the demons began a negotiation with Jesus. When Jesus appeared in the synagogue, a demon possessed man burst out with- “Leave us alone! What business do You have with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God”. Jesus nipped that one in the bud and commanded the demon to be quiet.

It’s impossible for the lost and for demons to actually submit to the authority of Jesus. I remember before I was saved I was very proud of the fact that I never took ‘no’ for an answer. I kept on negotiating, trying back channels, persisting until I got my way. “No” never really meant no to me, from anyone. Certainly not anyone in authority. I flouted authority. And that is the way it is with most people. They don’t understand that there is one FINAL authority whose word is eternal and graven in stone. Jesus is that final authority. His yes means yes and His no means no.

For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm. (Psalm 33:9).

Can you believe the Gadarene demons first tried to negotiate their way out of the abyss, then tried another tack of going into the pigs? A two-fold negotiation. After the entire herd rushed into the lake and drowned the demons probably wound up in the abyss anyway.

Even on the Day, when the lost stand before Jesus at His throne, they will try to negotiate. They’ll still flout His authority. They still won’t understand that His ways are firm and His no means no. Matthew 7:21-23 is another scene of negotiation,

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; LEAVE ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

‘But, but, but, we’re so great, we did so many great things, we did it for YOU, Lord!’ Even at that late date, they won’t realize that there is a final authority.

Many living people who claim Christ as their Savior unfortunately have a low view of Jesus and His power and His jurisdiction over the whole earth- and their very souls. Two women come to mind who in their own words told their audience they’d begin a negotiation with Jesus that quickly descends into an argument (one-sided, to be sure). In this video Beth Moore claims that we will get to heaven we will start complaining to God about what He didn’t do for them on earth. Moore said,

“We could live our whole believing lives through, and never make it to our promised land. We get to heaven and go ‘You were not faithful to me! You didn’t do what you said you were gonna do!’ (source here too)

Doesn’t that sound for all the world like the prophesied statements from false Christians in the Matthew 7 verses above? It does to me.

Joanna Gaines of the Magnolia empire and HGTV’s Fixer Upper said recently that she flatly told ‘Jesus’ no when ‘he’ said she was going to marry Chip Gaines. In an interview recently, Joanna revealed,

This is one I’ve heard God’s voice more than ever. I heard him say, ‘This is the man you’re going to marry,’ and I’m arguing with God and said, ‘No it’s not.’ ‘This is the man you’re gonna marry’, ‘no, he talks a lot, God.’ 

The point is, whether a person alive on earth today who claims Jesus as their Christ, or resurrected on the Day and facing Jesus, or a demon, if you have a low view of Jesus and His authority, you will try to negotiate with Him for what you want. Argue even. It’s not a matter of knowing that Jesus is supreme authority and should be obeyed. It’s that they don’t want to. Submission is not in their vocabulary. Immediate obedience is foreign to them.

And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” Another negotiation. (Luke 9:59).

Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say goodbye to those at my home.” (Luke 9:61).

If there’s a ‘but’ in there, you’re not submitting.

One of the ways we worship Jesus is obey Him and His word. Immediately and without question, argument, or negotiation. We have example after example in the Bible of obedient saints, who accept what He has to say and do their best to energetically and immediately submit.

As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew sitting in the tax collector’s office; and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him. (Matthew 9:9).

And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38).

These days the word submission is used a lot in reference to wives submitting to their husbands. But the word submit is also for all Christians. Husbands submit to Christ. Children submit to parents. We all submit to Jesus, no matter our station in life, our age, demographic, or gender. We are children of God, who made us and owns us by His Son’s blood. As Mary said, we are bondservants of the Most High.

How do we respond to His word? Do we obey it? Without argument? Negotiating with Jesus is not a good look, for anyone. Please think on these things.

Author:

Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.

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