Sadly sovereign, mostly sovereign, and mostly believing sovereignty

Christians, at least in America (since I don’t know a ton of Christians outside of America I’ll limit my target audience to those I actually know) really struggle with the idea of God being Sovereign. Now few people struggle with declaring God is Sovereign, since that’s exactly what the bible tells us about God. But when it comes to actually what God is sovereign “over,” well that’s when two paths diverge. I’ve “chosen” (or have I?) the road less traveled, but many folks really believe in a limited picture of God’s Sovereignty. 

For instance, my son’s preschool lays forth some of its theological convictions, one of which is “God is Sovereign over all things.” But what they really mean is that God is Sovereign over all things except my individual choice to repent and believe. That is off limits. God does not choose people, God’s people have chosen Him. This is an arena God can do nothing about. So in essence God is only mostly Sovereign (still better than slightly sovereign I presume). 

Yet for those who would profess that God is in total Sovereign control over His universe (Psalm 115:3; Psalm 135:6), there is still yet another bigger problem. Believing it. How do I know if I am, at the moment, truly believing God is Sovereign? Here are some diagnostic observations I’ve been personally working through (well before, but also during the election) to discern how much I really believe.

  • I might be saddened by a decision/outcome, but will not be depressed by it. 
  • I will be angered by an injustice, and it will move me to prayer and action, but I won’t be disillusioned by sin’s presence. Sin’s presence will be with us until Jesus returns.
  • I will be frustrated by an event or outcome, but instead of a fatalistic apathy or uber-introspection, I can evaluate and discern what can be learned for the future
  • I might be angered by the actions of others, but it won’t stop me from loving them

For a more thorough look at the idea of “God is in control” as it relates to the election, I commend to you the article of a friend and fellow PCA pastor

Professing God is Sovereign is the easy part; believing God is actually Sovereign is hard part. Very hard. I’m a decent theologian but not very good at applying my theology. That’s what my frustration, anxiety and blood pressure levels reveal. They reveal a disbelief that God is both trustworthy and sovereign. 

This part has much less to do with the election and more with the presence of evil in the world and our moving into it.

There is on often overlooked aspect of God’s Sovereignty: that God can ordain something that brings him sadness (though not regret). Think about God not delighting in the death of the wicked (Ezek 33:11). Think about the cross. That did not come about by accident but by God’s decree. Think about Lazarus’ death in John 13 and remember that Jesus could have come sooner, but chose not to do so. Yet he wept. An intentionality, plan, and purpose, but not without tears. Think about the way a father has to discipline a son, being in total control of that discipline, yet he is sad that it has come to this point. 

I think we need less an answer as to why we suffer, and more a dynamic relationship with Sovereign loving God who also weeps with us. One of my favorite preachers, Martin Ban of Christ Church Santa Fe, reached this conclusion, even though I disagreed with how he got there. The why is less  important than the Who.

God’s Sovereignty doesn’t mean that God simply coldly ordains. He is not subject to emotions the way we are, but we cannot assume that things which always fall out according to His plan are without any divine “tears.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s