Bad Thoughts - Theology That Leads Us Astray

I hate the phrase, "Well, if it is God's will, it will happen." A phrase like that would mean that the growth of Islam was God's will. Mormonism, God's will. Constant war, God's will. The shootings in Connecticut, God's will. The list could go on and on. How asinine. Saying that what has happened and what is happening is God's will ignores the Bible, ignores our reality, and is really a device that will cause us to ignore God.

Two weeks ago, Tim Tebow, who was signed by the New York Jets in the offseason, was leapfrogged for the starting quarterback job. He had been waiting behind Mark Sanchez all year to get a start. The coach decided to not start Sanchez, but he also decided to start the third-stringer instead of Tebow. So Tebow is still the backup. Unfortunately for him, he became the backup to the guy who was his backup.

Tebow said, "I don't have regrets. I believe everything happens for a reason, and it's a learning opportunity for me and there's a lot I've learned, good and bad."

"Everything happens for a reason." That sounds all good and spiritual. It's nice that he has a good attitude, but the bad theology drives me nuts. True, everything happens for a reason, but when that is uttered in spiritual circles it usually implies that everything happens as a result of God. He's the "reason" they are implying. Lots of things happen due to reasons that are terrible. A kid gets killed in a drunk driving accident, not because God wanted that, but because we live in a fallen world and a person decided to be stupid, drink too much, and decide to drive. Kids get shot in a school, not because God wanted that, but, again, because we live in a fallen world and something went terribly wrong in a young man's head. God is not a puppet master, and we are not His puppets. God will use everything for His glory, but that does not mean that everything happens as a result of a God reason. Every day, things happen that are not what God wants to happen. Outside of His will. Outside of His plan.

I want to propose another phrase today. It's not as catchy as "everything happens for a reason" or "if it's God's will, it will happen," but it contains more truth than those two statements. "If God wills it, then we need to join in and make it happen. Or it won't." He is the solution. He has a plan for humanity and each one of our lives. But we, the church and His people, are the delivery method of that solution and are given the privilege to bring his plan into our reality.

We are free will beings. Just like the coach of the Jets could have chosen to start Tebow. Just like a drunk driver could have chosen to call a taxi. Just like the shooter could have chosen to not be a monster. They weren't being micromanaged by God. He's not in the micromanagement business. Well, at least not all of the time. He's in the prompting business.

We need to be careful to never let those words - that "everything happens for a reason" or " if it's God's will, it will happen" - ever exit our mouths or control the way we live. Try not to even think them. Those thoughts disempower. They belittle our importance as free will beings. They cripple our prayer lives. They stifle evangelism.

God doesn't need us to be puppets for Him to be great. He's already great. He's amazing in the way that He is patient and waits for faithful followers to bring about His will. And we don't need to be forced to be faithful. We need grace to be right with God; our own works cannot do that. But that grace is available to everyone. Each one of us needs to acknowledge that God knows the solution, the best plan for our lives, and He is waiting for us to be faithful. We have the choice to respond to His plan for our lives by surrendering to His will, loving Him, and loving others. God will use everything to bring about His will. But He is patient. If God wills it, then we need to join in and make it happen. Or it won't.

God knows our passions and our desires. He didn't create us to be a puppets, but to listen to Him and be a doer of His will. I once talked with a friend who is a talented artist and involved in church. I asked him, "So have you ever used your art skills for your church?" And he had never thought about it. That broke my heart. Somewhere we strayed off course and designed a church that didn't have room for each individual's creativity, passions, and dreams. Molded into bringing glory to God, of course. Every gift, every blessing, every talent is an opportunity to be used by God. Don't let the thought that you are a puppet prevent you from dreaming and doing what is on your heart from God. You aren't a puppet. You are a loved creation that has been blessed with passions and abilities.

If God wills it, then we need to join in and make it happen. Or it won't. And I don't want to live in a family, a community, a church, or a world where His will isn't happening. It starts with us. In the morning, when we rise, do we decide that we are going to live this day to bring about God's plan or are we going to spend investing in a plan that will eventually turn to dust, our plan. The choice is ours.