Wednesday, October 10, 2012


We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. (Romans 8:28 NCV)

Among the "good" church-going Christians of this country, you will often find this verse listed as a favorite. It's a great verse to give us hope and understanding and encourage us that in times of confusion and chaos, God has a plan. I count myself among those who have come to this verse to help when things get tough.
Here's the rub though, many times people will throw this verse around trying to make themselves or others feel better about a situation that they don't like. They will use it for an excuse, or to almost blame God for things happening... Saying things like, "I don't understand why _____ is happening, but I guess God has a plan, I know he works all things for good, so I guess I just have to accept it." Ifs often that we want to lop off the end of verses, especially verses that have a qualifier attached. In the case of the often abused Romans 8:28, we lose "of those who love God." I think that at times we drop the ending because we figure its a no-brainer... of course we love God, so of course He is working things for our good. But is that really what this verse is saying?
Among the words that our pastor uses often, the phrase "scripture defines scripture" ranks pretty high on my list. It has helped me many times as I read through God's word. He also helps us, as his church, to understand that the Bible, in its entirety, from beginning to end, not in part, but the whole, is true, infallible, and perfect. Verses, taken out of context, with their words twisted, inflections and stresses changed, can be used to create entirely new ideas and whole religious practice and belief structures are often based on this type if false teaching... it is also the most common tactic of Satan to lure us away from a right understanding of God.
I say all of this to get to a story, and I think there is a point...

I was recently turned down for a job, a shift in careers that seemed truly perfect. Better hours, more money, growth potential, and a way to impact my patients in a much different way. I first applied for the position a few months ago, and was initially rejected. I went on and continued looking for other opportunities, applied for other jobs, trusting that God would open some doors. I then found a position that sounded intriguing, a leadership position in the same office as the other job. I sent my résumé, and waited. One day a couple weeks later I received a call to let me know they were hiring an internal candidate for that job, but they wanted to interview me for a different position... the job I was initially rejected from months before. Romans 8:28 flashed in my head. Everything went smoothly, interviewed, and waited... everyone assumed I was moving on, including my current supervisors, it's was too perfect. Romans 8:28 in action... It couldn't be stopped... until last Friday, a call let me know that, to their surprise, they had received a couple of unbelievably good applicants for the position and they were going to move ahead with them. Romans 8:28... shattered.

Except not... a couple of things happened as I went to God in prayer following that phone call, the biggest was the conviction I felt when I asked God what more I could have done to deserve the job. When I pleaded to know how this was to my good. What I got back was a sense of needing to (again) reevaluate my understanding of scripture.
We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. (Romans 8:28 NCV)

The first thing was to focus on the qualifier that we so often drop from the verse, "of those who LOVE GOD." How does the Bible define love in this sense? How do we know if we love God enough for Him to work things out for good? At the instant that I quoted Romans 8:28 to God (note: never quite scripture to God unless you are ready for a response) He responded with John 14:15 & 24
“If you love me, you will obey my commands." (John 14:15 NCV)
Those who do not love me do not obey my teaching. This teaching that you hear is not really mine; it is from my Father, who sent me. (John 14:24 NCV)

Ouch... God responded

My brain put it together as:
We know that in everything God works for the good of those who obey the commands of Jesus, and anyone who does not obey the teachings of Christ does not love God because those teachings come from God. Therefore if you do not obey the teachings and commandments of Jesus, you are not living within the will of God. However, if you will surrender, and die daily (as Christ commands is necessary to follow and obey His teachings) then you will be aligned with the work that God is doing. Because God is working all things for good for those who fit His definition of love, we can trust that if we are submitted to His living through us, as Jesus teaches, that God will complete His good work through us.

Romans 8:28 is a promise that the will of God is for the advancement of His kingdom and a better understanding of His glory among His people. Those who are submitted to His will are vessels of His work that will lead to that good... It is not a promise that we will get the job we want, or the car we think we need, or win the lottery if we just love God enough.

No comments:

Post a Comment