Classic iMonk Post
by Michael Spencer
from October 2008
Note from CM: This was posted on another blog Michael started, called “Jesus-Shaped Spirituality”.
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The problem with theological types- like yours truly- is they think that God has explained himself. In the Bible. In Jonathan Edwards. In the Lutheran Confessions. In the CRCC. In the latest Piper book. In the ESV Study Bible notes. Somewhere.
The fact is God doesn’t explain himself.
Romans isn’t God explaining himself in your life. There’s some “big picture” stuff there, and you’ll do much better if you realize that “big picture” explanations are what God is interested in. But if you want explanations for why you have no friends, or why you seem to fail the harder you work or why your daughter became a Hindu, you aren’t going to get those explanations.
And you must especially beware of people who pretend to have explanations for you. Churches are full of these people, usually at the pulpit end or in the academic section. They have a favorite book or a DVD presentation that gets right to the explanation for your family’s troubles or your business failure, and what you should do now.
It’s a lot of hogwash. The Bible is what God is going to tell us about his interaction with this world leading up to and into Jesus. It’s a very subjective kind of book, with much more to say about the experiences we have than the answers we need.
In fact, Jesus explains one parable, and actually makes a lot of demands. Job repeatedly wants an explanation, but he’s not going to get one other than “Where were you? Were you there?” (Very Ken Hamm.)
The answers we give each other suck. The answers in the Bible are big, generic and can’t be fit into the map of your life as specifically as you want. God wants us to trust who he is, what he’s done for us in Jesus and what he promises to finish doing. Along the way, he has some good advice and specific commands, but not many answers to the mysteries of life that torment us.
Believe in the God of the Bible, and have lots of questions of “Why?”…..You’re probably going to get tired of hearing things like “Everything God does he does for our good” or “God allows evil so that good will come from it.” God’s not sitting in a booth playing fortune teller or shrink for a nickle.
He’s God. His goal is that we trust him, and live the best lives we can based on that trust. A significant part of that kind of life is moving past the “Whys.”
In the TBS movie “Abraham,” God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son. Abraham goes out and screams “Why?”
In the Bible, that never happens. Maybe it did, but the Bible never mentions it. Hebrews says Abraham took Isaac to be sacrificed convinced by God’s previous promise that he and the boy would, somehow, return.
Abraham took that all the way, never pausing to say “Why?” along the way. When Isaac asked where was the sacrifice, Abraham didn’t get smart and say “Good question.” He said “God will provide a lamb.”
God doesn’t give explanations very often. He’s working for a bigger result- faith and trust in who he is and what he’s done for us- and will do- in Jesus.
That’s the life. I need to get busy living it, because every moment I’m shouting “Why?” I”m wasting my breath.