There are times when it’s comforting to remember that God knows everything. He sees it, hears it, and even feels it. Depending on your view on God’s sovereignty, you may even believe He’s the one who instigates it– the master puppeteer, down to every traffic jam, and yes, every shoulder-driving-line-cutter (you know who you are). Since He is God, we must surrender that He, at the very least, knows about them. It’s just kinda part of the God-package. He knew about them before they knew about them, and if He didn’t directly cause them, He at least chose to allow them.
Arguing that God created all, knows all, but doesn’t control all (even indirectly by allowing certain things) leads into the ever-debated topic of choice or destiny; Calvinist or Arminian. You know it’s a big deal when they give themselves new names to identify which side they’re on.
I honestly relate to both sides. It sure feels like my life is full of choices, but it also seems a bit ridiculous that anything would be outside of God’s will– who is Himself the reason that my heart beats and my brain reasons. I don’t like to think that God gave my dad cancer or allows heinous things to happen to little kids. But I also know that pain and death are no new things, and that our experiences here in this brief life aren’t the focus of eternity. God’s purpose is not to keep us safe. It’s to be glorified through His creation.
All that to say, this is a paradox that I’ve happily gift-wrapped for myself and placed under the metaphorical Christmas tree. I’ll eventually understand, but until then, I figure it’s best to treat obedience like it’s a choice while believing and worshipping God as though He’s in control of the whole thing. To me, it’s not an issue that warrants division within Christ’s church. And definitely not one that makes me want to call myself anything other than a plain and simple “Christ follower.”
Fifty years ago, we knew just a fraction of what we know today; and in another 50 years, that process will probably repeat itself. To think how, right now, we might know about half (or less) of what we will know in 50 years is fun and interesting, but kind of unnerving at the same time.
The craziest part is that God has100 percent of that knowledge right now. It’s not like He is learning alongside us when we tinker with science in search of answers to DNA mysteries, vaccines and cures, and social and psychological trends. The vastness of what we might figure out eventually is a memory to God. It’s like me recalling what I ate yesterday. Or maybe not, since sometimes I can’t even do that. Whatever. You know what I mean.
Here’s where it gets uncomfortable, though. Our very lives, thoughts, and personalities are part of this massive mystery of expanding existence. I would venture to say that trying to figure out our own nature is even more elusive than the natural sciences. The natural sciences at least have honesty and consistency going for them. We thankfully don’t have to worry about gravity having an emotional breakdown.
How easy is it to ignore the root issues that cause the heartaches, insecurities, and fears in our lives? How simple is it to paint a rosy image of our lives on social media even if we’re drowning on the inside? Who wants to admit (even to themselves) that, yes, they have an idol problem with money, relationships, sex, etc.? But God sees that side of us–the side of us that even we won’t look at.
God has a live feed of all the times our minds are (and will be) far from loving Him. Imagine “The Truman Show” scaled up to include emotions as well as actions. Thinking about that makes it suddenly very easy to see why God compares His chosen people to a prostitute so many times in the Old Testament. We read those parts and think that God sounds a little harsh– but is He really?
I’m talking about those moments and thoughts in the middle of the week when you don’t consider or involve God at all. Those thoughts are just as much a violation of the Greatest Commandment as the thoughts of a man lusting after someone else’s wife. We figure, “I’ll go to church again on Sunday, so God must be impressed with me.” But He knows the truth of what we worship the other six days and 23 hours, even when we turn a blind eye to it.
If we’re being honest, we play a smoke and mirrors game even with our spouses or best friends– convincing them and ourselves that they know us completely. But subconsciously, we make certain that they don’t really know us.
God, however, knows your true motivations. He knows all the times you fantasize, hate, hoard, destroy, ignore, cheat, lie… are you uncomfortable yet? I know I am.
But here’s the most amazing part. Yes, God knows you completely, including the parts you think that if any of your friends knew, they would no longer be your friends. Yes, He knows the parts of you that you don’t even admit to yourself. And He still loves you– so much that, before you even knew who He was and wanted to change, He died to give you a way to get back in relationship with Him. And He knew when and how that moment was going to happen– when you finally recognized (or will recognize) that it’s that relationship that you’ve been missing.
Don’t get it twisted, though. The purpose of His sacrifice was for His own glory. But I’m so thankful that the God who made me gets glory through my life and salvation rather than my death and destruction. It would be pretty awkward if that weren’t the case.
This relationship is meant to show us the way we’re intended for. It’s a path full of constant repentance (that means “change”), which requires a level of humility and self-honesty that we don’t like to give ourselves. It requires a willingness to let go and trust God rather than the values we’re taught from our downward-spiral of a culture.
Walking along the way Christ showed us is marked by a process of sanctification–of becoming progressively more like Him. It is a neverending journey, but it’s one that is intended to mix grace with overall progress. That’s a tough cookie to chew for many people who comfort themselves with God’s “endless grace” while lazily ignoring the convictions and truth the Holy Spirit is introducing to their hearts. Grace isn’t a single course meal. It’s a side dish to the harvest and fruit of our growing love, faith, and courage. To call ourselves disciples of Christ without making room on our plate for those other elements of the meal is simply another deception we fall victim to.