It’s okay to admit it. No one’s judging… Well, maybe some dude on Twitter is judging, but I’m not.
There are some passages of Scripture that we all absolutely love and adore:
- Our hearts soar as we read the hopeful promise of John 3:16: “For God loved the world in this way: he gave his one and only son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
- We love Paul’s confidence as he says to the Philippians, “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you[b] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (1:6).
- We are elated when we read Pauls’ praise in Ephesians 3:20-21, “Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us—to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
There are more, of course. You’ve probably got a list in your Bible, on your phone, or maybe on your coffee cup. They’re somewhere you can see them—somewhere you’re reminded of the goodness of God.
But then there are those ones, in our most honest moments, would prefer weren’t really there. There are probably a lot of them, in fact. The ones that make you uncomfortable. The ones that feel like you’re putting salt in your eye whenever you read them. I’m not talking about the ones where God commands the Israelites to kill a whole lot of people, nor am I talking about verses dealing with familial relationships and mutual submission. Instead, I’m talking about ones that cut far deeper. Verses like these:
- “But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)
- “I give them eternal life,and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:28)
- “There is no one who can hold back His hand or say to Him, “What have You done?” (Daniel 4:35b)
What is it about these verses that rub so many of us the wrong way? They confront us with the cold, hard truth that we are not in control. And we are all, by nature, control freaks. We want to be the masters of our own destiny. We want to be answerable to no one. We don’t want anyone trying to tell us what we can and cannot do (unless it’s us telling someone else).
The reason we don’t like verses like these—the reason I don’t like verses like these—is because they confront us with the truth: we are in control of nothing. We don’t get to “own” our salvation, in the sense that we did anything to cause Christ to love us and save us. We don’t get to leap out of his hand whenever we want, because he’s keeping us there. That God does whatever pleases him, and we don’t get to question him.
They’re verse that remind us how small we are—in the right kind of way. Verses that give us a bit of perspective on who we are in relation to who God is. They’re the sort of reminder a guy like me—a guy who can easily start to think he’s a bigger deal than he is—need on a daily basis. I don’t get to do what I want, merit what I’ve been given, and I don’t get to question the one who does.
It’s hard to remember, but I need to. How about you?