Do you believe that God is in the process of making all that is into all that he wants it to be? Most Christians believe so.
Practically speaking, then, are God’s children to simply embrace everything around them as God-ordered, God’s work in progress, his fait accompli?
I’d like us to consider for a moment that God wants his people to discern between two things and then do something about it. He calls his children to discriminate between 1) what is and 2) what ought to be.
The Apostle Paul could have said, “In this world there is much evil, therefore Que sera, sera — ‘What will be, will be.’ And, what is, is.” No discernment or action would be necessary. Paul instead steers the saints to option #2. He gives the assignment to work toward what ought to be. He says: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21).
One way to describe what Paul says is to see biblical history as a record of how God and his people overcome evil with good, seeking righteousness in a world that runs counter to it.
Part of Paul’s personal assignment, at one point, was to pursue the church’s virtue by expelling a sexually immoral brother (1 Cor. 5:13). Paul acted against the current state of affairs, calling it evil, and then calling for the church to correct itself into being the church it ought to be.
There are many examples in Scripture where God’s people overturn what is in order to bring about what ought to be. For example:
- The nation Israel began with God working miracles against what was (an unjust Pharaoh who held a people in slavery), to bring about what should be, namely his people set free to worship God (Ex. 10:3).
- The prophet Amos warned Israel that what was should not be. He warned those in the marketplace who skimped on quantities by using inaccurate scales to boost the price (Amos 8:5).
- God himself spoke against Israel’s status quo at a time when his people were robbing him by not bringing a tenth of their income into his house (Mal. 3:6-12). The people were building their own houses to the neglect of his, a condition God said should never be the case.
- John the baptist spoke out about King Herod’s adulterous marriage. John spoke troubling truth, then paid for it with his life (Mat. 14). John would not bless what was, but declared what ought to be.
- Paul spoke against gossips and busybodies to say that ought not characterize any Christian (1 Tim. 5:13).
Accepting what is, when that something is evil is not Christianity — that is the definition of apathy, fatalism, even animism. True biblical theism is different. It emboldens God’s people to confront, contest, and overcome evil in a fallen world.
The time is fast approaching when that boldness will no longer be needed. The day is coming when “the kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15).
In the meantime, let’s gird ourselves for battles. Pick them wisely. Stand against any evil of what is. Work for what ought to be.
Be of good cheer. Be people of courage. Know that God will finish the good that we start. And the really good news is that God promises to make all that is into all that ought to be.
Now that’s something to Celebrate!