Coincidence? I think so.

We Christians love coincidence.

You know the kind: “Well, right after talking to you I was praying that somehow God would show me if we should be together, I was just headed into the grocery store when I ran into an old high school classmate I hadn’t seen for 10 years. His boss had just this morning given him tickets to the U2 concert next week – but he can’t use them because his mom’s having surgery that day. He asked if I wanted them! So, see, God does want us to go on a date together – to the U2 concert!”

I’ve heard coincidence used as an authority for determining everything from what ministries a church should engage in to settling questions of doctrine.

So what’s the deal?

I think the problem is that we don’t want to take responsibility for our own thoughts, feelings, and decisions. It’s easier to say “this is what God wants – see, he worked out all these coincidental circumstances to show us his will.”

Consider two alternate views of reality:

View One: God is in heaven. He wants you to do exactly what he wants done so that everything will be perfect and no one will ever make a mess (like, say, crucifying the Son or stoning a deacon to death). You are on earth. For some reason God has trouble communicating – maybe it’s because he’s so far away, or you’re so hard of hearing – whatever it is, God has to orchestrate elaborate coincidental schemes to get your attention and tell you what to do so everything can be perfect.

View Two: The Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit have embraced all our lives and the whole creation – the good, the bad, and the ugly. In Jesus we have all been raised up into the Trinity’s life of joy, love, and freedom. Because humanity is secure in Jesus we are free to make choices, to succeed or fail, without any fear that all will be lost. The Father can deal with messes (like, say, crucifixions), in fact, he’s good at cleaning them up – and helping us learn to clean them up – and like any Father he enjoys going through life with his kids and helping them learn. He doesn’t necessarily do everything for them but he does do everything with them.

To me, that second view of reality sounds more like the Father that Jesus has shown me.

~ Jonathan Stepp

2 comments so far

  1. Boyd Merriman on

    What a coincidence, I think God wanted me to read this! 😉

    Thanks for reminding us of our humanity and freedom in Christ, and our participation in the Trinity.

  2. Pastor Jonathan on

    Thanks for the encouraging words!

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