Are you willing to ban Dihydrogen Monoxide?
It’s getting into our reservoirs and streams. It can cause excessive vomiting and urination. People have died from too much Dihydrogen Monoxide.
So, are you willing to ban Dihydrogen Monoxide?
A while back, the comedy duo Penn and Teller sent a camera crew to a music festival where people were presented with an opportunity to sign a petition to ban Dihydrogen Monoxide. Hundreds signed their names. It’s a good thing that petitions aren’t all that effective.
Dihydrogen Monoxide, if you can remember back to your science classes, is water. H2O for short.
The people singed the petition because the name sounded scary. Scary enough to keep them from seeing the facts. Water is good. More than that, water is essential. There is no life without it.
Many christians have their own versions of Dihydrogen Monoxide. The words are similar and they show up in the Bible quite a bit. Many find them scary. Scary enough to keep them from seeing the truth. And the truth is good. More than that, it is essential.
The words are election and predestination.
The concept is that God, before the foundation of the world, chose a people to be his. He didn’t do this because he thought that we would make a nice edition to his team. He didn’t do it out of need. He didn’t do it because he knew that we would one day choose him anyway. He did it out of love. And grace.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will. Ephesians 1:3-5 (ESV)
In short, you didn’t find God. He found you. Even before you were born. It was his will, not yours, that gave you new life.
Somewhere deep down, we don’t like that. Sure, we sing Amazing Grace but we prefer Amazing Paycheck. We like to think that we brought something to the table. We don’t like the idea of being fully indebted to someone. That’s why when you go to lunch with a friend and he offers to pay, you always decline. We prefer 50/50 to 100/0.
There is nothing 50/50 about salvation by grace through faith. Sure, you have to have faith but even that is a gift from God.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)
Still we argue. This isn’t fair! Why would God choose some and not others for salvation? But we ask the wrong question.
I have a friend who went to another country on a mission trip a few years ago. During his time there he made a connection with a young girl with a dim future. I still remember him talking about her when he came back. He told me that he was going again and bringing her back with him to live with his family.
There were many setbacks. He made trips back over but returned empty-handed. He spent money but saw nothing in return. He sacrificed his time but saw no fruit. But he kept going. He never gave up. Now that girl is living in his house as a part of his family.
How should she respond to my friend’s grace and love?
Should she argue that he wasn’t being very fair to the rest of the people in her country? Should she accuse him of being cruel to the people that he didn’t rescue?
Or should she say something like this?
“Why did you do this for me? I don’t deserve this grace and love. It isn’t fair! But thank you for showing me grace and love instead of what is fair.”
Because of our sin against God, hell is what’s fair for us. Adoption into God’s family is an example of his love and grace overriding our concept of what’s fair. The last thing that anyone should want is God’s fairness. We need his grace.
Words and concepts like election and predestination might make you uncomfortable. And none of us, even Paul (Romans 11:33-36), will ever understand everything there is to know about election, grace and love. But we shouldn’t let that keep us from seeing the truth.
And this truth is good.
It is essential.
There is no life without it.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. John 15:16 (ESV)