Here I am…posting my coffee shop ponderings from outside of Coffee Choices. Actually…I never made it there today to write my sermon (I did make it there this morning for coffee though). I usually start writing the sermon in my office and finish it at my coffee shop, but today was different. I got on a roll and couldn’t stop typing.
On Sunday I am continuing my sermon series on Romans by preaching on chapter 8 verses 26-39. I started pondering and praying about verse 28 where it says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Upon pondering this verse I started thinking how this verse is often misused (or at least used in the wrong situations). The times I have heard this verse used is when someone is facing a devastating disaster or disease diagnosis or something else devastating. And in times like those, Romans 8:28 is the last verse I want to hear. If I am mourning the lost of my house and possessions because of a tornado, quoting Romans 8:28 almost sounds like that God planned this disaster so he could do something “good”. At the moment that is not comforting. After the fact I may be able to look back and see the good that came from that disaster, but not right now.
I think this verse is used because of our insatiable desire to explain everything. If we can’t explain it in scientific or logical terms we chalk it up to God’s divine plan (“I am not sure why this happened, but God is going to do something good thought it; it was God’s will.”) Telling a parent, who’s child just died, that it was God’s will is often not the right thing to say. Or trying telling them that God will do something good though that death. You might get an angry response in return. But who knows how they will look at death later on down the road.
Instead, I see Romans 8:28 as a proclamation of grace. The “good” God is working towards is nothing else than our reconciliation through Jesus Christ. Ever since the Fall, God has been working to reconcile creation back to himself. And it is only though faith that we can recognize this “good”. Sometimes the “crap” of this world can cloud our faith so we cannot see God active in our lives. But after the dust clears, then things begin to clear up.
In a simple phrase, quoted by a friend of mine on Facebook, “It’s all grace!” And that is so true. God IS working for good, but let’s be careful how and when we use this verse. We might do more harm than good. Instead, share with people how God has gotten you thought difficult times. Talk about God’s amazing love and how he never left you when you were going to a tough time. Let people see the “good” for themselves after the dust has cleared.
What are your thoughts on Romans 8:28…especially in the context of verses 28 – 39? Do you think this verse often gets misused?
There will be no “Coffee shop ponderings” next week as I will be on vacation up north. Actually, there might not be a whole lot of activity from me at all next week, but you never know. In the mean time, I look forward to reading your thoughts here. Take care and I will catch you later.