Trust

In the middle of a much longer and thoughtful post on trust, Jared at the Thinklings wrote this:

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

This conviction of things not seen isn't just about trusting God to use our mess for glory; it's also about trusting He's in control of that mess and that there really is a higher order in place to which the mess is subject.


That one made me, and still makes me, go hmmm ....

The first part - that faith is more than trusting God to use our mess - and the last part - that there is a higher order at work than we can see - I'm completely on board with. The idea that God is bigger than our mess and that He knows what's happening and can see much farther and wider than we can is absolutely key to making it through the tough times with one's faith intact.

It's the middle part - that God is in control of my mess - that makes me scratch my head. Jared's a Calvinist and believes, I think, that God is in direct control over everything. If I understand that right, that includes his writing his post, it's exact wording and my writing my response (does that make God responsible from my typos?). Jared and I have been 'round and 'round on this a couple of times before and he's even won me over a bit.

His quote here takes me back to that age old question, how much control over the world does God really execute? I will not disagree with Jared that God is ultimately in control. Where I have disagreed is that it seems to me that God has allowed us some freedom, some sovereignty, over our own lives and destinies. We wield that sovereignty to our own peril as we are not equipped to direct our own affairs in this world saturated in sin. Nonetheless, God has afforded us that opportunity. Given us enough rope to hang ourselves, if you will.

Yet every time I come back to this question, I find both answers lacking. A God that is directing and determining every action seems uncaring and distant. Yet so does a God who's sitting back and watching, waiting for us to 'get it'. Is there a middle ground, or perhaps some other off-to-the-side ground where God operates?

What do you have to say about this?

7 Comments

It's subjective. He's not in control of us cause he gave us free will. But I suppose you could say he is in control of us cause he could say how long we're going to live. Or, even if he doesn't do that he set the upper limit so there's control. Anyway, it's subjective.

I don't think there's any question but that God CAN be in micromanagement control of every detail on this globe. The question is, DOES He?

My sense is: No. He may know when the sparrow falls, but He does not always prevent the sparrow from falling.

Just because we can't perceive at the time that adversity makes us stronger, doesn't mean that God is willing to "rescue" us from it and keep us weak, even if we pray sweat-drops like blood for that.

We make many of our own messes. Others make many of them for us. Ultimately, Jesus cleans all of them up.

In the meantime, I think it's up to us whether we LET God work through us - and our messes - to His glory. And that is all part of working out our own salvation.

As always, it is best to turn to the scripture. The challenge is to NOT "proof text" the situation. Whole chapters and areas of scripture must be considered. My understanding is that in HIS perfection, God created us in HIS image. This is further defined right there, and there is no need to speculate what that means. Let's look at Genesis:

26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

If you look at it, this is very enlightening. First HE says, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…" Okay, so, we are in God/Trinity's likeness (the use of the word "our" here), but let's look what that includes or entails; "…and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So here we are given authority over living things. It is in our own construction to rule this planet. IF God controls everything, why were we given authority to rule? How would that work? God is in control of everything we do, and yet, the very fiber of our being is to have authority over life. An interesting note is that the image of God is both feminine and masculine, together.

Let's look at other passages.

Look at the one that Keith quotes:

29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.

This leaves little doubt that God is in control. But let's look at it closer. It says that not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. We could say that God wills birds to fly and die, as if he is ever present and making it all happen at all times. However, we also know that God rested after creation (which we can explore), so, what if from creation God willed dead birds to die and fall? But, before we get too much into theory, let's look at the scripture in whole and in context…
5These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, "Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7And proclaim as you go, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' 8Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. 9Acquire no gold nor silver nor copper for your belts, 10no bag for your journey, nor two tunics nor sandals nor a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. 11And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. 12As you enter the house, greet it. 13And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. 16"Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. 24"A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.

26"So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.. 29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father 30But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

This scripture is being used to show how valuable we are to God, and that he is interactive in our lives. Clearly there is a choice being given to the Jews that hear the Disciples. They have a choice to put them up for the night, or invite them over for dinner, but more so, in verse 32 and 33, we see that in light of them denying Christ for the fear of being put to death, they are warned to remember that they will be judged for making this decision to or not to acknowledge Christos Yashua. God is aware! He is aware of everything, but that doesn't mean that he is manipulating every little thing there is. Look at 26: "So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known." He is talking about being aware of things, and the fact that those individual actions of people will one day be brought forth in the light.
This scripture is not to be used to show that God wills all of OUR actions. Does he will a sparrow to fall to the ground when it dies? Yes. But, that is in the "Wholeness" of creation concept, which is a huge subject, but might be applicable here…

Deut 29:29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

I think Calvinists go too far in reading between the lines trying to understand things that have not been revealed. What the scriptures literally and expressly state on the subject is obviously true. What we infer from those truths may not be.

Thanks for our thought, folks, they are appreciated. I'm still hoping Jared will pop in and comment too, but we'll see.

P. - Thanks for the long and thoughtful comment. (I edited it slightly, but only to add the block-quotes so it's a little easier to read. I hope you don't mind. :-P)

The Genesis scripture is telling to me. God gave man at creation authority and rule - sovereignty you could say - over the Earth. It was His to give and he still retains the ability and option to revoke it. Clearly from other verses cited (and plenty of those not cited) He is still active in the world. How active and when is the $64,000 question.

I think I tend to be one who puts too little faith in God's involvement in the world, and therefore I don't pray enough and I spend too much energy doing mental gymnastics trying to sort things out to come to the 'right' conclusion or produce the 'right' result. It's that nagging feeling that keeps bringing me back tot his thought of how much is God not just in control of but involved in.

As a Calvinist, I'd say that we have free will in regards to everything that doesn't pertain to our salvation. God didn't ordain what color shirt that I put on this morning, for instance. Though if he did I'd have no doubt that he would have made the same choice. ;-)

I think I tend to be one who puts too little faith in God's involvement in the world, and therefore I don't pray enough and I spend too much energy doing mental gymnastics trying to sort things out to come to the 'right' conclusion or produce the 'right' result. It's that nagging feeling that keeps bringing me back tot his thought of how much is God not just in control of but involved in.

Thanks for the block quotes by the way. I also look at it like this...Moses and God had a perfect example of give and take. God commanded, Moses did (obeyed)--Moses asked, God did(favored)...and so forth. As a young Christian I came to this conclusion and it has stayed with me. Obedience is que to God's interactivity in our lives. If you want God to ignore you, ignore Him. It is like any other relationship. I don't know if that is exactly right, but that has been my faith.



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