All We Can Do Is Respond

[A post I originally wrote for The House Studio]

I’ve begun to hear a worldly slogan among many Christians both young and old.  The slogan is as old as our story as humans.  It is a slogan that has not changed since our progenitor’s un-godly assumption in Eden.  It is a slogan that we are tempted to repeat each day we wake.  The basic slogan is “I/We will…therefore God will…”

  • We will start a new service for emerging adults; therefore God will bring them back to the church.
  • We will serve the homeless in our community; therefore God will provide for them.
  • I will create a great sermon; therefore God will transform people.
  • We will create a transformational ministry; therefore God will transform people.

It is here that we should remember the story of King David (2 Samuel 7).  Having finished a beautiful palace, thus giving the appearance of establishing the royal family as leaders of God’s people, he thinks to himself it isn’t right for God to remain in a tent.  So he decides that he will build a temple; therefore God will be satisfied.

Nathan tells him the most deceptive line in Scripture, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the LORD is with you.”

To which the word of the LORD came to Nathan that night regarding David’s desire saying…

  • I will make your name great. (9)
  • I will provide a place for my people Israel. (10)
  • I will also give you rest from all your enemies. (11)
  • The LORD himself will establish a house for you. (11)
  • I will raise up your offspring to succeed you. (12)
  • I will establish his kingdom.  He will build a house for my Name. (12b-13a)
  • I will be his father and he will be my son. (14)

What this reveals is that Christians have continued to get the slogan of the Kingdom of God wrong.  In the kingdom of God, “God will…therefore I/we will….”  In other words, all we can do is respond to the activity of God.

The slogan of the kingdom of God brings us face-to-face with the reality that this world is out of control and it is beyond our ability to do anything about it.  Yet…God will do something.  In fact God has already done something.  God has acted in Jesus Christ; therefore we can respond in faithfulness to the way of God in Christ.

Therefore let us pray as our Lord taught us to pray, “Father not my will but yours be done.”

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Paul Sheneman
Paul Sheneman is an author, speaker and youth pastor. He serves with the Macedonia Methodist Church in Ohio. He drinks way too much coffee for his own good. His main interest is exploring Christian formation. You can follow most of his ramblings on his blog at www.discipleshipremix.com or on Twitter @PaulSheneman.

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