It has been said that the best lie is 99% truth. It’s that 1% of error that trips us up – often with ramifications hugely out of proportion to the lie itself.
I’m concerned that, as Christians, we have swallowed some lies. I call them “easy errors” … they all have an aspect of truth, but without qualification they become dangerous lies:
Easy Error #1: God can change people.
True, God can change people. That is, after all, the essence of the gospel message! But here’s what’s missing, and why this can become an easy error: God can only change people who want to change. God will never force a person to change against their will. He does not command holiness by jerking our strings like a divine puppeteer.
What’s the ramification of believing only the first statement, that “God can change people”? Here’s one dangerous result: we may be praying for someone whose life is out-of-sync with God’s will, and then become hopeless and blame God when they don’t change. It is imperative to remember that change is a partnership between God and the human soul. When we are willing – and only when we are willing – he will work miracles.
Easy Error #2: God can change me.
Yes, this is a variant on the first easy error. This is when we pray that God would change our heart, remove temptation from us, stop us from sinning … but we aren’t willing to put forth the effort to seek God, we don’t love him with all our heart, we continually place ourselves in temptation’s path, and we really enjoy sinning. Just as God can’t change others unless they want to change, God can’t change me unless I want to change. He is always willing – he’s waiting on me.
Easy Error #3: God is sovereign, so why pray?
This error acknowledges the sovereignty of God, but forgets that God has chosen to work in partnership with the human race. God commands us time and time again to pray. Why? Because many times, God will not act unless we pray.
Won’t God always accomplish what he wants? Isn’t that what sovereignty is all about? Well … yes and no. The book of Revelations demonstrates conclusively that God is in control over all. But the fact that we live now in a world rife with sin shows that God takes our free will very seriously.
We can look at it this way: God’s sovereignty is like a broad brushstroke over a huge canvas. It provides the background for everything else. Our prayers are like the fine lines that create the details of the painting. If we fail to pray, the picture will come out very differently than if we spend time on our knees.
Easy Error #4: God will open and close doors to direct my life.
My answer to this would be: sometimes. And sometimes not. Certainly, if we are seeking God’s will for our life, he will on many occasions use circumstances to help guide us. Doors open, doors close.
But that is not always the case. After all, if God always used circumstances to open and close doors, we would never have to reason out whether a decision was wise or not. We would simply wait to see what circumstances dictated.
Instead, we see throughout Scripture that we are encouraged to pray for wisdom, discernment, understanding, and knowledge. That is why I firmly believe that God sometimes purposefully leaves multiple doors open … some of which may lead to positive ends, some of which may be deadly. Why? Because he wants us to be able to make a mature decision using the other tools he has given us, such as our reason, his Word, his Spirit, and the counsel of others.
Think of it in terms of raising a child. Is a child mature if he always sits on his hands and waits to “see what will happen”? Or is a child mature when he can weigh real alternatives, make a wise decision, and move boldly forward?
The Common Denominator
As you look at the above easy errors, you will see a common denominator. In each case, the error has at its core a desire to forego personal initiative and responsibility. We ignore the interaction between free will and the grace of God. We disregard the responsibility we have to pray. We abdicate our responsibility to make choices.
Basically, we want life handed to us on a silver platter. We’re not willing to do our part.
Easy errors? Yes.
But with serious consequences.
© 2009 Paula Marolewski, www.SinkYourRoots.com
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