“Luck is for suckers.” – Orphan Annie
I recently experienced a life change and, what may be common for most us, well-meaning friends would often wish me luck. In fact, I can’t think of a time in my life when I have been wished more luck. Being from the South I have a special DNA strand for politeness that keeps me from being too rude. So whenever someone wished me luck, I often smile gently and say, “thank you” and think, “are you a Christian!?”
Too harsh? I know! That’s why I never said it. But let’s think about it. Is it “Christian” to wish someone luck? It is a phrase that has become commonplace in our culture so I realize I am swimming upstream on this one, but I think our “common phrase” is an offense to the gospel and here’s why.
The term “luck” dates back to the time of Emperor Trajan (97-117 CE) who built and dedicated a temple to the Roman Goddess of “Fortuna.” Worshipers would come to the Temple to receive hope. Hope that they would prosper. Succeed. Win. At what ever it was life was bringing their way. Fortuna’s name is obviously from the same origin as our English word, fortune. Worshiping, “Lady Luck” as she is referred to now, offered hope to those trying to appeal to the invisible one in control of life’s circumstances.
And that’s where it gets sticky. When we wish someone luck we are appealing to the unseen force that controls life’s circumstances. Now this may sound crazy but I thought that was God? I know. I know. How small minded of me. But as a Christian I believe that God is in control of all circumstances, in fact He is in control of every invisible thing.
Blowing on dice.
Crossing our fingers.
Wearing the same socks to every baseball game.
Those things are tangible. We can touch them. We can put fourth some kind of effort to manipulate the situation. When we do these things we create a “god” we can touch, see or even manipulate. Unfortunately, this misplaces the glory God is due and puts the glory on something, well, stupid.
Who gets the glory for the double sixes? Your breath?
Who gets the glory for your name being called? Your knuckles?
Who gets the glory for winning the baseball game? Your socks?
Do you see how irrational this is? You’re not alone. The church in Colossae was struggling with the same thing. However, they were intimidated by the invisible. That’s why Paul wrote them Colossians 1:15-16, to clarify who was in charge.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. – Colossians 1:15-16
Jesus is in charge of the invisible realms. That means Jesus is the one turning the dials. Not your socks. Or lady luck. We all know “it” is there. Something is out there controlling everything. That’s why you do what you do. As Christians though we have the incredible gift of knowing who it is that is in control. Of course you can’t manipulate Jesus. You can’t force Jesus’ hand. Either Jesus will give you the win or he won’t. Yet, that seems way more rational then thinking my socks have something to do with it.
In the end, your life and my life, are not in the hands of serendipity or lady luck. Our lives are in the hands of a loving God. Who gives us seasons of blessing and seasons of loss but he never gives us a season without Him. You see you don’t need luck. You and I need Jesus. Through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, we have access to the ONE who controls it all. I would rather have Jesus than luck any day.
Grace be with you,