The drama of many movies, tv shows, and novels are built around the suspense of someone being taken hostage. Our first thought is the motivation for money but the agenda quite often is not that simple. Sometimes it is to get a message across of a political nature or a confession and repentance toward a group of people. There may be the intention of a trade for other persons of interest in the event of cold and hot wars. The idea being simply that the perpetrator has something of value that is believed to motivate the negotiators to make an exchange for something of equal or greater value to their agenda. Various devices and methods of communication are used along with other weapons to intimidate and motivate the desired outcome. Threats of suffering, torment, and even death are part of those weapons.
This brings us to one of those hard questions which in itself is paradoxical and drenched with a need for self-inventory.
How am I holding God hostage? This is riddled with the idea that one could even hold God under threat or have the power to accomplish such imprisonment, but we will get to that later. Follow with me for a bit.
Within those of us that profess Christianity or other relationship with God, suggest we are a vessel of Him in the form of messenger, gift-giver, fruits of His labor, or any other term you may wish to use to describe the unity of God and man. This may be described as being filled with His Spirit, born again with a renewed heart toward the purposes of God, or taking on the interest of God over our own by loving Him and our neighbors as ourselves. However you would describe this relationship you have with God, it probably includes the idea of His providence, character, and essence being manifest in and through you. That in some spiritual and mystical way, you and God are joined together where He is the source of all things good and you are the vessel to proclaim that goodness. A relationship where He lives in you with the attributes that would be beneficial to you and those around you if and when you choose to release His character.
With that as the backdrop and an emphasis on our choice to release His goodness, I ask the question again, how are we holding God hostage?
Let’s go back to our fictional or nonfictional events in the drama scene described previously. Someone needs to make a statement. They want something in return for what they have. What they have is believed by those who want it desperately enough that the price for trade is inconsequential. The one holding the hostage is expecting that they will give them what they want in order to release the hostage.
If God is the hostage and His character release is what is needed and wanted, what are our negotiating terms? Love, joy, peace, kindness, patience, goodness, the list goes on. Who does not want and need these attributes of God? Who does not pursue these gifts in some way or another? Who does not thrive when these providential characteristics are displayed and open for participation? Who is it that God desires to project these necessities through? Who is willing to release the hostage for the benefit of those that need Him so desperately? And what are our trade requirements to exude the love of God?
I want you to take care of my needs first, then we can negotiate the terms of release. I want a proven commitment to your end of the bargain and then I will consider your compensation for what I have that you want. If necessary, I will create pain, suffering and torment to get what I want and then I will give you what you are desperate for. The tools of negotiation are various forms of communication – passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive – with an exactness either premeditated or on the fly. What we have been given freely without earning is now the hostage of concern.
Let’s now deal with the paradox of God being a hostage. Let’s start with the most recently reviewed holidays known as Good Friday and Easter. An all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God came in the form of a man called Jesus. With all the power of heaven in one spoken word, Jesus could have wiped out those who were holding Him hostage and as a prisoner on trial for a crime He was not guilty of. Instead, He let them beat him, torture him, torment His dignity and authority, and ultimately kill Him. We should not think for a minute that this same all-powerful God will not let humans suffer because of the selfishness and injustice of others. He established from the very beginning a determined partnership where we have the authority and opportunity to rule over the earth and work in harmony with each other. His covenants established with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Israel, David and eventually the Gentiles are based on His authority, willingness, and desire to express His goodness through and throughout all mankind. He thrives on giving to us so that we may in turn give to each other. He comes to us individually and collectively with the gift of Himself so that we may in turn continue the flow of His majesty and glory. So can God be held hostage? If we have received anything from Him, all of it being good, and we have not in turn shared that goodness without the express interest of getting something in return, it could be said that we are holding God hostage.
What are our terms of release? “Freely you have received, freely give. For from His fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” Matthew 10:8, John 1:14