Monday, May 8, 2017

Romans 8:28

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God - those whom He has called according to His plan.

We know that, but what about when things, uhm, don't seem to be working out for good? What about when things don't come together, don't fall into place, don't work out?

Or what about when they do?

When we read this verse in the way written above, we set ourselves up for a deep theological difficulty that is double-edged. First, we expect that things ought to just work out. All on their own. You know, the way things do. 

But the testimony of the Bible, and of creation itself, is not that things just work themselves out. It's not that things just come together. Genesis 1 - everything is formless and void. It didn't just come together to create the heavens and the earth; it had to be acted upon. Exodus 19-20 - Israel doesn't just figure out how to live together as a holy community; they have to be instructed how to do so. Turn to the Gospels - there are 4,000 and 5,000 (and actually, more) hungry persons who are not suddenly feasting and full; they have to be fed. 

Things don't just happen. Problems don't just disappear. Questions aren't just answered. Someone or something has to act in order for something to happen. 

Imagine, though, if they did. Imagine if the universe just fell into place, if community was easy, if hunger simply sated. Now, let me ask you a tough question: if things just happen, what do you need God for? 

That's the hidden danger of this reading of the verse. If things just work themselves together for good, if pieces just fall into place all on their own, if good just happens, what in the world do you need God for? Absolutely nothing. It doesn't require Him. And if it doesn't require Him, why would you choose Him? 

But go back to the testimony of the Scriptures and of creation itself, and it's clear that things do not just happen. Life doesn't just come together. Good doesn't simply work out.

Genesis 1 - God had to shape the formless and void. By His own hand, He formed the universe. Exodus 19-20 - God had to tell Israel how to live as a holy community. By His own hand, He carved the commandments on two stone tablets. In the Gospels, Jesus had to feed the hungry. By His own hand, He broke the bread.

And that means that all things don't just work together (as we all well know from living this broken life) - God works all things together. Good requires God. 

And that means that we don't trust in Romans 8:28; we have to trust in God. For we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, whom He has called according to His purpose. 

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