August 25, 2020
Who Knows the Mind of God?
August 25, 2020
O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counsellor?” (Rom 11:33-34)
It is disconcerting when some people say they know God’s mind and motives. God, they may say, “sent” some evil, such as the pandemic, to punish certain sinners. Earlier in Romans, Paul says this is a false scenario, “For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory” (Rom 3:23). Sin has consequences, and we suffer in many ways from our failure to act wisely, and from our lack of caring for the earth and for our neighbors. But God doesn’t send a deadly disease. And conversely, giving God a gift doesn’t cause God to give us something in return (Rom11:35). With God, there is no quid pro quo option.
What God does send is grace. Grace leads to life; grace counters sin in ways that we can barely fathom: “but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, . . . so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 5:20-21).
We cannot know God’s mind, but we do know God’s love. From the beginning, God assures us that we are created and sustained out of God’s love for us. All that God created, God declared to be good. Love is God’s motivation. This does not mean we will never suffer, but God is always with us, loving us through it all: “knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Rom 5:3-5).
QUESTIONS FOR THE FIELD
- Think about the words “endurance,” “character,” and “hope.” How do they apply to our lives, especially during a time of crisis?
- The Greek word Paul used for “grace” is charis, meaning an undeserved gift or blessing. It’s also the root word for Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper. In what way is Holy Communion a gift? (John Wesley called it a “means of grace.”)
A PRAYER OF THOMAS CRANMER (1489-1556)
Lord God, you have taught us
that anything we do without love is worth nothing,
for whoever lives without love
is counted dead before you;
send your Holy Spirit, and pour into our hearts
the true bond of peace and of all virtues;
grant this for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ
who is alive with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and forever. Amen. (1 Corinthians 13)