The Christian Soul: Goodness

As I argued in my last post, belief in God’s sovereignty is not only Biblical but vital for progressing in the Christian life. Without it, we have no assurance of God’s protection; as a result, both faith and God simply become things we attempt to control to ensure our own safety.

There is, however, a sinister form of belief in God’s sovereignty that we must address before proceeding. It goes something like this:”Everything that happens in my life is a perfect expression of God’s goodness.” In other words, everything that happens is God’s absolute best for me. So if my child dies, for example, it is not an unfortunate event God never intended, but instead a thing God orchestrated for my good, even if I fail to see how good it is.

Continue reading “The Christian Soul: Goodness”

The Christian Soul: Sovereignty

So much rests on God’s sovereignty.

By sovereignty I mean the idea — and not just the idea but the very fact — that God is in control of our lives. That He is not only allowing but orchestrating every circumstance in which we find ourselves, down the the smallest detail. And it is all for our good.

Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. . . . So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10)

So much rests on this idea of God being perfectly in control of Creation, and our lives, because without it, we cannot truly come to a place of rest ourselves. We will not be able to rest in God’s perfect care. We shall instead “be like the pagans” who chase after many things, finding ways to meet their own needs.

In the parable Jesus tells of the sower, some seed falls among thorns. According to the parable, this seed is choked, and Jesus later explains to His disciples that the thorns represents “the worries of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth.” These are two very different things, but they do share one thing in common: They both stem from meeting one’s own needs.

If we must meet our own needs, then (let’s face it) there is much to worry about. And if we must meet our own needs, then wealth is deceitful because it holds out to us the promise of delivering us from the worry that characterizes our existence.

Wealth symbolizes our own attempt to take care of our own needs. It promises to provide for us, to protect us, even to fulfill us. If we were only rich enough, then we would be happy. If we only possessed the resources, then we could take care of our own needs, even our own spiritual needs. So we reason. Wealth then is not deceitful in itself; it is only deceitful to the extent it represents the deception we believe about ourselves: That we are able to take care of our own needs.

Wealth is not deceitful in itself; it is only deceitful to the extent it represents the deception we believe about ourselves: That we are able to take care of our own needs.

One of the big mistakes we make in our pursuit of Christian spirituality is trying to find God in that place of restlessness where we are taking care of our own needs, instead of finding God in the place of His sovereignty where He is committed to taking care of our needs. We say, “God wants to bless us,” which of course is true. But then we secretly ask, “How can I get God to bless me in the way I wish to be blessed? How can I get God to go along with my plan to take care of myself?” God becomes to us the means to the end we seek instead of the end we seek. In truth, He becomes to us just another form of wealth.

But I do not blame us. Not one bit. The fact we do this is not only natural but inevitable — that is, if we do not realize how in control God is: How deep within His care we already live. How close to us God already is. How intimately involved in our circumstances He is working. We are worth much more than many sparrows.

This knowledge marks the dividing line between us building God into something we can control and us understanding we exist in a world in which God is in control.

Ironically, the thing that often causes us to doubt in God’s sovereignty is our very doubt of it in the first place. I think of the children of Israel being led by God and provided Manna daily, and those poor souls who thought it would be a good idea to collect more than what they needed for that day, only to discover the next morning their provision foul and full of maggots.* I can imagine one of them saying, “How can we possibly believe God is in control of every circumstance in our lives when there are maggots in our food?”

But God was in control. He was in control of the maggots as much as He was in control of the Manna. And even in these circumstances, He was still committed to their care. His care simply looked different. It may have even looked severe. But what may have appeared to the uninitiated as severe, even perhaps indifferent, was God working deeply in the details of life. He was delivering His children from their restlessness built on a belief in a world out of control, into the perfect peace which is built on the knowledge that God is in control.

The thing about God’s sovereignty is that it is true whether we believe in it or not. Our belief simply determines whether we find the world (and God) to be severe, or whether we find ourselves in His perfect care. Our doubt in God’s perfect control may even be reinforced by the consequences it brings, like an endless feedback loop, but it cannot change the fact that in the details of our own experience, God is actively working. In order to bring us to the knowledge of Himself.

So much rests on God’s sovereignty. Indeed our very lives; we cannot help but be found within its folds. Be blessed this day, and may any endless feedback loop of doubt in your own life be broken in Jesus’ Name that you might rest in God’s perfect peace. After all, you are worth far more than many sparrows.

 


Photo by Przemyslaw Reinfus on Unsplash

*Exodus 16:20