“How Involved” is God in Our Lives? – Greg Albrecht
I have believed, for a long time, even when I was up to my neck in Christ-less religion, that God calls people to follow Christ even before they were even born. Is that correct?
I worry and wonder about how much God was involved in my life before I was a Christ follower, and how involved he is now. Before I started to follow Christ, at 18 yrs of age I was stabbed and almost killed. I had a hard childhood, as did all my family, as we had to deal with an alcoholic father Then in my early 20s got involved in Christ-less religion, which I think was the last thing I needed then, and in the midst of that experience I I made a bad choice by marrying a much older woman which ended in divorce. There are so many other so extreme experiences in my life before Christ, that I wished had never happened.
Sometimes I cannot help but wonder why God allowed those things to happen but at the same time, I realize that God knows best and I have to trust in him. But sometimes I struggle with if he allows all those things to happen, I wonder if those things were supposed to happen as part of my calling? I wished someone would had guided me in making better choices. Still, I also understand my eternal life with Jesus Christ is secure. While I have nothing to worry about in terms of my relationship with God, I always struggle with thoughts about my past experiences and I’m tired of that. So can you tell me a little more about how God is and was involved in my life? Thank you for your time.
There is much speculation among all world religions, and indeed within Christendom, about how much God is “involved” in our lives, what he allows, what he directly brings about and how and when he intervenes in events that we experience.
First, to your initial question about whether God “predestines” an unborn person, perhaps one who is not yet conceived. The idea that one, long before their birth, is specifically identified by God to come to Christ, is rife with problems.
- While there are passages about predestination in the Bible, they are not dogmatic and emphatic about huge numbers of persons receiving the love of God, or the opportunity to receive the grace of God, in Christ, as opposed to even greater numbers who do not and will not enjoy such a divine privilege. God does not love one person more than another. God loves the entire world – John 3:16. So the idea of predestination, and the teaching that is extrapolated from a few biblical verses is exclusivism, it springs from the idea of an implied privilege that some will or do enjoy that others do not – such a teaching is at complete odds with the inclusivism of the gospel.
- By contrast, the Bible is filled with passages about choice – about God allowing humans the freedom to determine their path in life, as opposed to the supposed predeterminism of predestination theories. God does not force anyone to follow him. God does not deny anyone the opportunity to receive and embrace his grace.
- For those who teach a “narrow” view of predestination – ie. that specific individuals, before they were born, are and were predestined to not only be born but then receive the love and grace of God in a way that others do not – this view suggests divine manipulation of one’s genetic trail, ensuring that one’s ancestors married one another, etc. God can do whatever he wants whenever he wants, but does he get that involved, in micro-managing, our lives …. or even many other people’s lives?
Next, let’s talk about how in what manner God might have been involved in your life before you willing accepted to invitation to embrace the grace of God and follow Jesus Christ. First, I join your family and friends in thanksgiving that you survived the attempt on your life when you were 18. Then you refer to the trauma that you and your family endured in an alcoholic family – and following that your marriage that ended in divorce, in your words “a bad choice.”
Without minimizing the pain and heartache you have experienced, as we discuss how God was involved in your life, and to what detail, we start with the biblical revelation that God allows us all to make choices. He knows many of our choices will not be the best choice. He does not stop us from making wrong-headed decisions. In this regard, one might say that God himself is to “blame” for sin and evil because he allows it to happen.
Yes, God does allow evil, but of course had he decided that the world would be free of pain and heartache, then he could have removed the power of choice from humanity and created us as robots. If we were preprogrammed by God then we would not hurt ourselves or others through our choices. But of course that is not the history of the world and the creation as the Creator intended. It is not the story of our lives and of this generation that we see happening all over this world right now.
The hurt and pain that our choices bring upon us, and the hurt and pain that the choices of others make, so that we become victims of crime, for example, or abuse, as a result of their choices are not “supposed” to have happened. God does not bring about pain and evil in our lives. He does not directly cause us to be victims of accidents, of crime and warfare and he does not personally intervene in our lives making sure that we make bad choices so that we suffer.
Victor, believe me, we all struggle with our past. We have so many regrets about things that happened, choices we made, but we cannot go back and change what happened. As Christ-followers we FOLLOW HIM, GOING FORWARD, leaving the past behind… which is really all we can do. Of course, part of being a human is to dwell on the past. We cannot forget it. It sometimes plagues us. But it is not something we can change, nor is it something that negatively affects our relationship with God. It is forgiven — all of it!
We can, if we become consumed with the past, stop following Jesus – like Lot’s wife, we look back rather than going forward. You are now, by the grace of God, a citizen of the kingdom of God. You are now, by God’s grace, his beloved child. As you say, your salvation is secure. Nothing you do impacts God’s love for you. God loved you in the past just as much as he does right now and just as much as he ever will. His love does not depend on our choices – he loves us even if we choose not to follow Christ. In that sense, one might say God never gives up on us, just as the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son waited, in hope, for his son to come home.
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