Saturday, June 16, 2012

Throwing Punches and the Sovereignty of God

I am preaching tomorrow, and here's an illustration I am using to talk about the balance and tension between the providence and sovereignty of God and the moral freedom and responsibility of humanity:

My daughter loves Disney movies, and right now Tangled is one of her favorites. Disney also released a four-minute short called Tangled Ever After, and when she first discovered it, she wanted to watch it over and over. So after watching it at least 10 or 20 times (I lost count, I blacked out), I said “OK, that’s enough”. In a second, the face of my child went from beaming to blood-thirsty. A cloud passed over her face and the veins in her neck bulged. And she swung at my face.

Now a UFC Fighter my daughter is not. The blow seemed to move in slow motion. She swung out away from her body like it was some kind of combination slap/punch. She even tucked her thumb, which any amateur knows can break your thumb if you connect right. To her credit, I think she was aiming for my throat.

Needless to say, I caught her blow in mid-air. Now at this point, I had a choice to make. I could have said “No harm, no foul!” . . . if I wanted my daughter taking throat-shots at people every time they crossed her. But no. Even though I was, for all intents and purposes, sovereign over the entire situation (from the action that I knew was likely to upset my daughter all the way down to the landing of her blow), my daughter was still free and responsible for the decision that she made. And because of that, there was some “corrective parenting” that took place.

Now I know this illustration isn’t perfect, but I think it helps. Yes, I was in control of the situation. I knew that turning off Tangled Ever After was likely to make my daughter mad. And I was able to prevent her from inflicting as much damage as she intended. But she also made a morally free choice and she was responsible for it, even though I was in control of the outcome. It is similar when it comes to us and God.

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