By Lisa Huddleston
The preacher (not mine) kept declaring that we needed to be a confrontational people. “We must confront the culture!” to support the kind of society that our nation’s founders intended and that, obviously, he believed, God also predestined. The Ten Commandments posted in every classroom. The Lord’s Prayer being said before each day of lessons began. “It’s time for the people of God to take a stand!”
And I wondered why it all sounded so wrong. Yes, I believe wholeheartedly that God cares about holiness. I know that our love for Him is revealed in our obedience to Him. But nothing felt right about this smiling preacher’s call to confrontation. In fact, I had trouble looking at him as his grin and his words seemed so at odds that they jarred against my brain.
My more liberal friends would say of course it felt wrong, because it was! Who are Christians to think that they hold the market on morality? To whose God should we pray in our preordained schools? Whose belief statements should we post upon our national walls? And, of course, the thinking part of me understands their objections—and frequently agrees. Who made evangelicals the arbiters of holiness?
But it really was more than that. It wasn’t just that it appeared wrong to the culture against which I was being told to rage. It was that it felt as though it was also wrong in the eyes of God.
And Sunday morning God told me why that was: We do not know what God’s plan for the future actually looks like. We do know that He has one, and we do believe that it will not be thwarted. But our pictures and His may look absolutely nothing alike.
Think of the disciples. Who were they expecting when they found their Messiah? A warrior to overthrow all that was evil in their culture. A hero who would reestablish the order and the power and the legal system of their religion. One who would rebuild the temple in all its glory and authority. Instead—he tore it all down.
Peter struggled against this plan and was told to “Get behind me, Satan!” Judas fought God’s agenda and ended up selling his soul to gain what amounted to worse than nothing. All who encountered Jesus just couldn’t get where God was going with this guy, and I fear the same is true with much of the church today.
We rail against the culture. We pray for a return to the rules that were once the obvious signs of belief. We grimace and snarl and blog and speak hate through grinning lips—but we just don’t get it. And, in our defense, it is hard to get.
God is not who we make Him out to be. In fact, we do not make Him at all. He is the Maker, the Planner, the Only One Who Gets the Whole Picture. And I fear that to rail against the world around us may be in fact to rail against the Planner who is controlling it.
Yesterday’s sermon came from Acts 10:1-33. And as I did last week, I would like to share my pastor’s points:
- Being religious is not the same as being redeemed.
- God is at work in ways, at times, and in hearts you might never have imagined.
- Increased understanding follows loving obedience.
And to all three, I said, “Aha!”
Thank you, God, for clarifying what my soul recognized, but had such trouble articulating. My job is not to confront the culture or to judge the world or to tell others what they should be doing differently. My role is to trust you.
To borrow further from Pastor Jim’s sermon, Oswald Chambers said, “Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.”
And with that I can wholeheartedly agree. I do not understand the ways of God. The stories I hear and read in the news are not the scenarios I would write if I were the great Planner of history. But I am not. And because I am not, I will trust the One Who Is.
I’m not sure if Pastor Jim closed the sermon with these words or if they simply appeared in my journal from my own conclusions, but I need to remember them.
Lean in and let God lead. It may not be the dance I expect, but he will not lead me astray.