Thursday, June 23, 2005

God Meets Man

I asked the question of someone today, whether God works with people based on their sincere perception of Him, or whether God works with all men strictly by one truthful, perfect way.
For example, Christians differ on the balance between God's providence and our initiative. Some will say that we have to take much initiative and the God will work; others will say that we have to wait on God to do different things before we act. There is truth to both sides since we are commanded to be diligent and not slothful, yet we are also told to wait on the Lord. We are told, "choose you this day," yet we are also told that God will perform His soveriegn work and no one can stand in His way. This certainly represents a question that is completely unsolvable when presented as a choice between two sides; but the answers come when we look at it as a continuum and search for the balance.
Since it is that way, we have Christians who fall all over the scale from "Christian Deists" to Calvinists of the most extreme variety. The former will subscribe to the idea that God wound things up and leaves us to work things out; the latter will teach of God's unalterable control over every detail. Obviously most will recognize that the answer probably doesn't lie in either of these extremes.
Given this, if my friend believes that our initiative plays a greater role than I do, does God work with us the same way? Or, does God work through my friend's greater display of initiative to accomplish His will in his life, while in my life God is a bit more busy accomplishing His will for me by performing more acts of His own, per my sincere understanding of the balance between free will and providence.
It should be noted that either way, we can mess things up. In my friend's case, it would be by taking _too_ much initiative in the wrong way. In my case, it would be by sitting around and waiting for God to do as I thought He might when I should be the one acting. You may recall the story of the man trapped in a flood who refused the assistance of a log, a boat, and a helicopter all under the sincere conviction that God Himself would perform the rescue.
This brings up an important point. As imperfect human beings we can't completely understand God. His Holy Spirit can bring us to salvation and help us with the Scriptures but we will never have it all right. God certainly is aware of this fact.
So then we might expect God to tailor His dealings with us to match our sincere belief about how He works, at least a little bit. This would be my position... to deny this would be to deny the concept of grace.
Let me illustrate. I used to work processing order forms for sales reps. In this position, I was the one who said "yea" or "nay" as to whether the order went through. The level of complexity in these forms was very high, and almost none of the packets were perfect. In reality I could've kicked back almost every one, and aside from stating what the problems were I had no responsibility to explain or train them on how to do it right. Given the stressful nature of the job I had very little grace. As time went on, I began to have more grace, and began to do more to get the packets through by correcting small errors myself or working with the sales rep to correct larger errors.
Given our fallen state I shudder to think of a God without grace- a God who refuses to work with and bless us because we didn't get everything right- a God who continually "kicks back" our lives and dreams for errors. Rather I believe that God has much grace, and the purpose of this grace is twofold. First, to make progress with us in His will despite our failings, and secondly, to teach us, by degrees, a more perfect understanding of Him so we need a little less grace next time.
I'm glad He has more grace with me than I had with those sales reps. God often returns our harshness to others on our own heads.
Yes God is holy, and perfect, but God has chosen to work with imperfect man, and so it is His pleasure to give grace so we might be more perfectly like Him.
Maybe your doctrine is off. If you are seeking after God, He will teach you along the way and you will understand the truth more perfectly.
I hope that sometime I will understand what the true balance is between God's providence and our free-will, but in the meantime, He continues to meet me where I am at just like He did when I first was saved.

1 comment:

EZ-Bozy said...

Great stuff Dave, I love the conclusion you come to regarding God's grace. I still think you need to get off your ass and find a wife.