Christmas Prayer

I don’t understand how people have an issue with evil in this world. I simply don’t. Sin entered this world, and death by sin. All the shit and garbage, death and misery, all the pain that follows in the wake of leaving God’s perfect way … it all seems like a logical conclusion to me. I even wonder why it’s not a whole lot worse than the cesspool that it is. I’m sure it’s because God is sovereign, and I am confident that He is bending even the way in which we leave His design into a way forward more amazing than anybody could imagine – He is definitely refining those He has called. Which brings me to my altogether different question, which I hope is connected – it may very well may be downstream (upstream?) from the problem of pain.

My issue is in the arena of His calling. Why does He call some and not others? When Jesus was explaining to His disciples why He spoke in parables, He said it was so that some would understand and that others would not (Matthew 13:11). I don’t understand why God hardens the hearts of some (John 12:39-40), and why He allows the consciences of so many to be seared (1 Timothy 4:2). Why does He let people choose… no, insist upon their own damnation?

Some people follow in the footsteps of Origen of Alexandria and attempt resolve that tension by ignoring Scripture and saying that God calls everybody. Those who preach such a limited god, want a feel-good deity that is all love and no judgment. But such a god can only be found among the wealthy, the arrogant, and the powerful. Such a limited god isn’t what the God of the Angel Armies reveals about Himself in Scripture – He chooses the poor and the humble; the very people of whom the powerful take advantage and lead away from the Truth (Romans 16:17-18).

Of course, there are those who demand a universal salvation in the name of Jesus. That lazy and wishful thinking has been ongoing throughout all of history, it would seem, so Jesus set it right and taught more about eternal judgment than He did just about anything else. As though that wasn’t enough, those who want to ignore the righteousness, justice and holiness of our Creator had the issue resolved further in AD-543 at the Council of Constantinople by declaring: a therapeutic hell is a heresy. Such clarity is still not enough for the likes of Rob Bell, William Paul Young and Richard Rohr, though – and so the Apostle Paul states in Galatians 1:8-9: Let them be cursed. No mincing of words, there.

As a professor from college once said: “Feel free to disagree with Scripture. Know that you’re going to be wrong, but feel free to disagree.”

Maybe it was RC Sproul, but it may have been Tim Keller, who said something along the lines of: The problem of God’s calling and sovereignty may be great, but the problem of not having a sovereign God who calls some and not others is even greater. It is hard to wrap our heads around God whose ways are far above our own (Isaiah 55:8).

Our triune God turns many people over to their own evil desires, so that they may harvest the fruit of their best thinking (Acts 7:42 and Romans 1:24). As CS Lewis very likely said: “Some say to God, ‘thy will be done’, and to the rest God says, ‘thy will be done’.”

When God calls us, He first calls us to repentance. It’s, “repent and believe,” not, “believe and repent,” (Mark 1:15). Repentance is fruit; obedience is love. Jesus said in John 14, “If you love me, keep my commandments.”

I know that I am not good enough, I am not smart enough, and I am simply not worthy. I am bent and broken. There is nothing about me that warrants His grace. Not only is the garbage littering my personal path proof of my best thinking, but any good that might result from my fallen nature is only proof that I simply don’t measure up. Filthy rags are all I can bring. (The poem Ragman by Walter Wangerin comes to mind, here.)

And so, my daily prayer to the Father of all the details, is that He calls, softens and humbles me and my family. Above all, that is what I ask for. May the Lord of the Minutiae bring the precious souls of those I love (who He loves more), into a humble, repentant and obedient walk with Himself – such as they cannot accomplish out of their own strength and best efforts. Because I love them and want them to spend eternity with Christ in glory and paradise, may His calling be irresistible to them all.