God is in Control?

“God is in control” is a cliché that is common among Christians these days. This means different things to different people. On one side of the spectrum, people believe that no matter what happens, great or small, God is in control of every small detail. On the other side of the spectrum, people believe that God is in control, but there is free will to make decisions and experience the consequences of those decisions—good, bad, or indifferent. Overall, I believe God is in control in that he allows us to make decisions and he will intervene according to His will. I bring this up because some Christians say they will not abide by China coronavirus restrictions because God is in control and anybody who does take precaution lacks faith.

There are at least two problematic issues with this position. One is of faith and the other is of testing God, and they are interrelated. Satan brought Christ to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, urging him to cast himself down, saying in Luke 4:10-11, “For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over you to keep you: and in their hands they shall bear you up, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone.” Jesus answered in verse 12, “It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” Those who emphatically state that God is in control might see this example, if told to them without the mention of Satan and Jesus, as someone who lacks faith.

Faith as defined in Hebrews 11:1 is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him [God]: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” James writes in 2:18, “Yea, a man may say, You have faith, and I have works: show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” He goes on to write in verse 26, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” There is much written in the Bible about faith. It is based in trust and should result in wisdom, not foolishness. With respect to coronavirus faith with wisdom might look like what Martin Luther wrote in a letter during the time of the Black Death Plague.

In Luther’s Works, Volume 43, page 132, he wrote: “I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. This I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See, this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”

Godly faith is not foolish, nor does it tempt God. Those who question others’ faith because they subscribe to best practices of science and health in dealing with coronavirus are both foolish and risk tempting God. Christ arguably had more faith than any human, but he refused to tempt God by making a foolish decision. Christians, who make foolish proclamations of faith that belie good sense and risk tempting the Creator, cause those who are seeking answers during this crisis to question the very credibility of God. We are God’s representatives on earth. Let’s not allow ignorance of sound doctrine to get in the way of what God wants to accomplish during these times. If you believe God is in Control, show your faith with wisdom and love.

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Bill Wilson