WELL WHICH IS IT
HABIT or SPONTANAETY-?
-FAITH or WORKS?
FREE WILL or GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY?
I am just not as smart as God so it isn’t surprising that he does not think as I do. I guess that I’d better get used to it! I, trained in a western, Greek type of thinking, I want to know “Is it this or is it that?” God says the answer is “Yes” because two seemingly contradictory ideas can both be true at the same time.
The devil loves to get us off on one extreme or the other and then have Christians duking it out over who is more right instead of building the kingdom and fighting the enemy. We so often are satisfied turning our walk with God into habits and socially acceptable actions. “We and our ancestors have always done it this way.” We think that God loves pews and suits. Yet, if there is no heart, no spontaneity, no relationship, what is the point. Then people who realize the emptiness of habit without heart throw out habit and find themselves lacking in effectiveness.
I love the example of the early Methodist church which got it’s name from having method and habits but being full of life and relationship with God. When we get married, we have lots of heart and relationship drive but need habits of date nights and sit down after work to listen to each other and weekly teamwork meetings and saying “I love you” as we head out the door. These habits take the good intentions and bolster them and keep them going. So, yes, it’s both!
Take the question, is it all faith or all works? Now no one would argue that it is all works but they might heavily emphasize the need for works. James says show me your (useless) faith which does not result in works. Your running around saying “God bless you” to starving people and not feeding them. And I will show you that I have the (real) faith by what it drives me to do. He says that it is like being alive and breathing. Just try “living” for any length of time without breathing. Let’s try this, you “show” me your living without breathing and I will show you my living by breathing. Let’s see who lasts the longest. True the corpse on a breathing machine is not any better than the corpse that is not breathing.
Remember the definition of faith? The type of belief that forces me to act according to what I believe.
Belief that there is a God that then does not result in action is inferior to the belief of devils who at least tremble in his presence.
The analogy that I like is that of a safety net in a circus. Using a trapeze without a net is foolish and dangerous but sleeping on the safety net is pointless. The “net” of God giving me unearned worth, power and security is there so that I may do the triple backflips of obedience on the trapeze without the anxiety and fear that would impair my performance. So yes it is both!
Free will or God’s sovereignty? Yes!
The answer is in asking, what part of life is my part and what part is his? God has the lion’s share. He deals out the details of the current situation facing me. He gives me guidance, support and the grace to cry out to him for help in obeying. Ephesians 2:6 “And that not of yourself” (I can’t even take credit for having faith or having the strength to cry out)
My part is to accept the grace or to say NO I won’t. He then is in charge of the consequences, which God deals out to me and offers grace to deal with but I retain the power to say NO, and around we go. God is not mocked, that which I sew I will reap. Galatians 6:7
The analogy I use is a dam for generating electricity. God is the dam, the water, the pipes, the generator and the electric power lines. So what am I? I am the valve that can block the power but he even has to turn the valve, all that I can do is say NO I will not let you turn me.
Lord, help me to see the dynamic balance of your truth and to stop trying to squash everything into “Is it this or that” types of thinking just in order to feel superior and pick fights with others!