A Law Student's Attempt to Understand It All.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Make God Laugh

Tell Him your plans.

I have been reflecting on the future, my plans, and how I really don't know anything. The Bible verse that has been running through my head is James 4:13-17 (NKJV):
Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

Charles Spurgeon wrote an excellent sermon on this passage. It was published just after his untimely death. I highly suggest you read it. He had five points. First, that counting on the future is folly. Second, it is clear enough to us all that ignorance of the future is a matter of fact. Third recognition of God in the future is wisdom. Fourth, boasting of the future is sin. Finally, the using of the present is a duty.

I would just like to comment on the third point. In his book, James opens with a plea for wisdom and the promise that God will give wisdom freely. Beware praying for wisdom, for it is not often won easily. But how is the recognition of God in the future wisdom?

We (myself included) are apt to initially think that it means that God will "make everything work out"-- i.e. that it will all be pleasant in the end. I see no such promise in the Bible. Sure, God has a plan for the redemption and the renewal of creation. Yes, we have the promise of heaven and the resurrection in our glorious bodies. Nothing, however, is said that everything will turn out rosy in our lives presently. In fact, if Christ is to be our Model (and He is), then it is more likely than not that things will be tough. Paul was beheaded. Peter was crucified. In fact, most early Christians (and many modern Christians in China and elsewhere) have had to die for their faith.

So why trust and be wise in knowing that God is in the future? Because God is the Sovereign, the One who has a plan. So our present suffering and joys are just parts of His plan. We play a part in His dance that will renew the world.

We trust in God not because He promised everything would be rosy, but because He is in charge and is a good God. The pleasant things in life are shallow and vapid. The true joy, however, can withstand any trial and setback. That it because it is rooted in Him rather than circumstance.

It is what I'm trying to learn to do.


  1. Well and wisely written. The longer I live, the more convinced I am that I have a long way to go to "get it" -- by which I mean grasping God's ultimate purposes and incorporating them practically into my own life. God's longsuffering, mercy, and grace mean more to me now than they ever have before, and I expect by His grace that they will mean even more down the road.

    The truth of the Christian life is so eminently simple that it is accepted on childlike faith, yet so deep that few come nigh to penetrating it in the span of a lifetime. I fear Christianity is too often "dumbed down" & "watered down" in an effort to reach a wider audience. In so doing, not only are the profound challenges of the Christian life downplayed but also its sublimest joys are cheapened.

    Thanks, Tyler.

  2. Thank you, Ben.

    You are correct that, sadly, Christianity has been watered down in an effort to appeal to the masses. It has become a lifestyle and a sentiment. A song by one of my favorite bands put it this way:

    You know the house is one big mess, and it's partly our fault,
    We didn't stand for what was right, when the world said right was wrong
    Maybe fear's the motivation, the fear of rejection
    That kills our dissent with suicidal "relevance,"
    That's not the way
    Love isn't weak, and it doesn't have to be trendy,

    -- Three Cord Wonder, "Get Up" on The Jesus Rock Show (2006).