Friday, February 12, 2010

Comfort or Confusion?

I was asked by a dear friend recently about the topic of the Sovereignty of God. Light conversation, I know. Just to be clear, the doctrine of sovereignty has to do with God foreordaining whatsoever comes to pass...yet in such a way that He is never the Author of Evil...This is a profound mystery...a mystery beyond our ability to figure out...how's that for just throwing a grenade into the room and running?

I think when it comes to thinking about the sovereignty of God we need to keep in mind the "wills" of God. First, there is the REVEALED will of God...Scripture...and we are called to respond to that Word in obedience out of gratitude for God's love for us in Christ. We are to obey God's Word out of a love response toward Him because He first loved us.

Second, there is what we call God's sovereign or mysterious will that we don't DISCOVER through investigation...it is simply what happens...whatsoever comes to pass. However, we can never, obviously, excuse our disobedience to God's REVEALED will, His Scripture, and just say, "Oh well, its obviously God's sovereign will, since I did it..."

There is a mystery here that is WAAAAY beyond our comprehension because we are first, finite, and second, fallen. What we DO matters and what we CHOOSE to do matters, and sovereignty can never be an excuse to minimize the enormous importance of our choices, actions...or even inactions. One of the temptations of Jesus by the devil was exactly this: IF You ARE the Son of God, throw Yourself down from the Temple and He will send His angels to protect you...and Christ responded, Do not put the Lord to the test. God is absolutely sovereign and mankind is completely responsible. Hmmmmm. Brain freeze!

However, and this is REALLY important, God teaches us about His absolute sovereignty in Scripture in order to lead us to freedom (as well as submission, but I'm going to focus on the freedom part here)! Because of the fall of humanity into sin, we all have a tendency to be control freaks...just ask my wife and kids about my idol of control...but it's all an illusion...we are NOT in control...even though we are absolutely responsible! Think of all the ways people seek to protect their jobs, work hard, only to have some unforseen lay-offs occur. Think about people who are obsessive hand-washers, only to get sick from a bad hamburger...

If we don't learn to live with this tension that no matter how responsible we try to be, we're still not really in control, trust me, we'll end up in a rubber room surrounded by nice people in white jackets. This tendency to seek to control every detail of our lives is what leads people to be neurotic!

We spend WAAAAY too much emotional and intellectual energy trying to FIGURE out God's will...God's will is not some needle in a haystack that we need to find...the best way to be "in God's will" 5 years from now is to respond in faith and obedience to the REVEALED will of God that we are aware of over the next 5 minutes! The real issue is seeking Christ and His wisdom, not investigating "chicken guts" seeking to divine our way to a decision.

So, as my basketball coaches used to tell me: Play loose. Enjoy the game. Use your gifts. Play smart...and Play to win!

2 comments:

JunkerJorge said...

This doctrine brings me a lot of peace, but really confuses my wife

susanelizabeth31 said...

How come if God isn't the author of evil, how come then so many bad things happen to many good and innocent people?

How come sometimes, regardless, of what an individual decides and chooses, how come then that they still sometimes fall - and that sometimes nothing ever goes right for a person?

How come then does a little baby die or someone become ill with a rare disease that no doctor can figure out? How do you really put any of this into that perspective?

The baby doesn't have a chance to live and yet, is that in God's will and why would it be?

The person with the rare disease never asks for something that makes them sick all the time - sometimes so sick that he/she just wants God to take them home. God doesn't and that person suffers meanwhile.

Is God's sovereignty being discriminating for some reason unbeknownst to humankind? And why?

That's all this has done is led to more questions (and it took me 24 hours to put them into words).