“We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep.’ Luke 7
So often we try to control God, creating formulas to achieve what we want. Strategies for praying, singing, worshiping, and mission are all excitedly put forth as ‘the way.’ But God is not under any obligation to perform for us, particularly in the way we expect or demand. When we want him to judge injustice, he is merciful. When we want him to heal, he does not. When we want him to be ‘fair,’ he is generous.
This kind of attitude Jesus compares to that of being a churlish child—demanding an expected response to a certain behavior. Surely this way leads to disillusionment, anger, dissatisfaction, and even despair. But God is free, outside the bounds of our formulas or structures, and is most certainly, in the words of C.S. Lewis, ‘not safe,’ at least in the way we conceptualize safety. This is what makes him different from an idol—he is not subject to manipulation, bribes, or power.
But if ‘wisdom is vindicated by her children,’ by those who reject the formulaic ways of religion and pursue God by listening, learning, accepting, and surrendering—these children can find their own freedom and rest by rejoicing in the freedom of God. He does not act contrary to his character, but always works in unexpected and surprising ways.