When I was a kid one of my most favorite shows was, “I Dream of Jeannie.” My friends and I would take turns playing the Barbara Eden character, Jeannie, and the Larry Hagman character, Tony. Major Anthony Nelson (Tony) crash landed his space capsule on a remote beach. He discovered a beautiful bottle and opened it. With a puff of pink smoke out popped a gorgeous, blonde genie. She, of course, offered him three wishes and the opportunity to be her “master.” Being a gentleman, he refused not only the wishes but to be called “Master.” She fell deeply in love with him. Jeannie and her bottle came to live with Tony in Cocoa Beach, Florida. As the tv seasons went on, Tony also fell in love with Jeannie and eventually, they married. The problem along the way was she kept calling him “Master.” He always insisted she call him “Tony.” It was a way of life she lived for 1,000s of years. In that time the rules stood – when someone opened your bottle, they were your master. It took a lot of training to break that habit and eventually call him “husband.”
It takes a lot of work to be called a “master” of something. Journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell wrote about the 10,000-hour rule in his 2008 bestseller, “Outliers.” The rule is simple: mastery comes after someone practices one skill for 10,000 hours. And new studies show even that may not make you great at something. In some areas you still need talent or clearly defined ways in which you practice. When you break down the 10,000-hour rule it’s overwhelming. It can take more than 20 years to accomplish this feat for one skill.
God has been at work as Master of our world much longer. And who knows how long he has been Master of the Universe! I’m thinking He has gotten pretty good at being in charge, not only of our lives, but the entirety of our world. And yet we still buck under His authority. He doesn’t ask for a “master-slave” relationship from us. In fact, in Hosea, God clarifies His role in our lives. He wants to lead us, speak with us tenderly, shower us with riches. And when we respond in loving obedience He says:
“In that day,” declares the Lord,
“you will call me ‘my husband’;
you will no longer call me ‘my master.’”Hosea 2:16
I think as Christians we struggle in life between seeing God as our “master” as in “the boss” and as our “husband” because we constantly try to pull away and lead our own lives. The sin that is created from this brings feelings of condemnation and pain. Instead we should see God as “The Master of the Universe” – the being who has put in way more than 10,000 hours of practice. He’s who we can lean on, trust, look for guidance, find hope in, and gain strength from. And with that, He wants a personal relationship with us — as a loving “husband.”
A lot of feminists bristle at the Christian ideal of family structure. A husband as the leader of the family brings up hackles. And yet men and women who truly know and understand the Bible realize God created a loving hierarchy in our families based on our God-centered, world hierarchy. There are no slaves with brutal masters. There are masters who had responsibilities to slaves throughout the Bible. There are business people who must treat their workers appropriately, just as God has treated them. And it’s very clear that both a husband and wife have responsibilities for loving and caring about each other.
God, the All Knowing Master, is also our betrothed. I praise Him for being both – a powerful force that I can rely on and love with all my heart.