Challenged to Change
God’s Providential Algorithms
God’s Providential Algorithms
Sermon transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
God does not need the sacrifice of even our vigorous determination and our attempt to exhort one another to do it differently. He doesn’t need our annoyance or our desire to make each other do the right thing. He doesn’t need that. He doesn’t need that kind of sacrifice he needs the obedience of our wills. I saw that his desire for us, each one, is to rest in Jesus. You remember the gentleman who said, “I enjoy the second rest of the people of God that keeps me in perpetual motion.” What he was saying was when we stopped trying to do things ourselves and feel that we are responsible to bring them about and begin to rest in Him then we are actually resting in reality.
The reality is this and I don’t know if you have really thought through the thing fully because it is rather startling when you do. When God determined to make for instance we could take anybody, I could take myself but I’ll take Joe. When God decided to make Joe in his image so that he would be someone who would willingly be part of God and would love him freely of his own will, when God decided to make Joe he didn’t throw together a couple of neutrons and some electrons or throw together a bit of flesh with a bit of bone and then chuck it into space so that it fell eventually on this planet and then stand back and see what will happen. He didn’t do that.
He made Joe exactly as he made him and with the free will that he had. He didn’t make him and then throw him onto the earth to see what he would do. He knew what he would do; he knew what he would do. I put it to you even we silly little people operate that way. Even as little boys who made carts with wheels we knew with our very limited knowledge we knew what it would do and we had a fair idea what weight it would bear and if our dad ever thought of stepping on it we told him in no uncertain terms, “Dad that won’t hold you.” Because we knew even we with our little knowledge of carpentry had a fair idea what that thing would bear and we had a fair idea how strong those wheels were.
But often we have the idea “Yeah, yeah but do you not think there were things that God couldn’t know?” But he made everything that is, he made our brains, he didn’t do it by parts that he got from E-bay. He didn’t somewhere else contact some other god and get a few arms and a few brains and a few legs. God, he’s the only one. There is no one but him. He made everything. He made every detail of every body and every detail of every thing we see in the universe. He made it. He knows it through and through. Sometimes I, really when I think of myself I suspect that some of you have done the same, I thought well yes but some things he can’t know now. He can’t know and in the back of my mind was, he can’t know because if I knew I’d make them do it. And so I thought now God doesn’t make us do it so he can’t have known.
I never thought of the idea that he could know and yet could love us enough to let us do it. I think often we think “No, no he cannot know contingent events. I mean he can not. Can my computer? Yeah, yeah it can but I mean it’s really clever. I mean the programmers can work out what is this girl likely to do when she hits this key and when she attempts to do that what other things might she do. And the program of course works out of course she might do this and in fact it’s all built up on a number of permutations and the whole plan of algorithms is the same. It’s based on the idea of working out what people will think and what they will do in a certain situation.”
Of course God can do that! Of course he does that. He knows everything. He wrote everything in his book that we were going to do. All the things in our life that we were going to do, he wrote
them. He knows exactly what will happen. If you say, “Well if he knows that then why did he put us here? I thought he put us here to see what we would make of it. And whether we would accept him or wouldn’t accept him.” Why did he put us here if he knows how it would all happen? To give us a chance to rest in what he had planned for us to do and what he knew we would do. To give us a chance to acquiesce to agree with our wills in the plan that he had for our lives, the life that he has already lived.
That’s why I think that praise is so useful and I don’t know if you remember the name of the scientist that said it but it’s a 90 year old American I think that just died recently and he said, “The whole idea of time is nature’s way of preventing everything happening in one moment.” And it’s very hard for us to think of this and yet in another way it isn’t. How long do you think it took God to think of what would happen to the world? How long do you think it took? I mean it was a millisecond. I mean in a millisecond he saw everything, he saw all our lives, the thousands of us living our life, he saw Christ dying on the cross, he saw everything in a millisecond. He conceived it all in a moment. It’s just in kindness. The gentleman attributed it to nature but in kindness God strung it out in time so that we would have time to understand it and appreciate it. But it actually happened in one millisecond.
So it was all done in a millisecond and so our lives have already been lived and even the scientists would say there is somewhere in the universe where what we see as in the future has already taken place. The only reason God puts us here is so that we will acquiesce in that. In other words tomorrow has already taken place in God. Tomorrow has already taken place. What each of us will do tomorrow that’s already taken place. And what God wants us to do is rest in that, rest in that. Rest in that and just walk through it quietly and enjoyably. That’s why the hymn is so good. “Jesus I am resting, resting in the joy of what thou art. I am finding out the greatness of thy loving heart.”
It’s not something to be done, it’s something that’s already been done. That God has seen, has already worked through, and it’s all done and all we’re doing is going through that learning to acquiesce quietly in his will. That’s why it seems to me and we should pray for each other and you pray for me, the enthusiasm yesterday is good, sure it’s good and it’s important too to awaken all of us up to the importance of walking in a conscious joyful cooperation with what God has already done in us and through us. It’s important that we’re encouraged to that but we don’t need in a way to be pushed to try with our own effort and strain to make the thing happen. So on the one side we’re not to sink into passivity and slothfulness and say, “Oh God’s done it all so I can just lie back here and drink Coco Cola and eat ice cream all day.” So that’s not right.
Nor is the other thing right, “Oh I don’t know what I’ll do tomorrow. I don’t know how I’ll get through tomorrow I just can’t see any answer to this.” That’s not right because God has already done it all and that’s stupid. You’re not dealing with the reality you’re dealing with fears of the future that you’ve created yourself. But the middle ground is, “Lord, this is the life you have given me and it’s your life and you’ve already lived it and you in Jesus have already gone through all the days that I’m going to ever go through. And I thank you for that and Lord I’m looking forward to what I’m going to be doing tomorrow. And I’ll make whatever plans I have to in order to act sensibly but the weight is on your shoulders. I’m resting in you.”
I don’t know about you but I can see a great peace in that, just a great peace and relaxation. Where we are killing ourselves is we’re full of ourselves, we’re taking it upon ourselves. We’re saying “we, we, it’s on our shoulders. What happens tomorrow is dependent on me.” It’s not
dependent on you. It’s already been done by your dear Father. You’re being uppity and insufferably disrespectful to the God who controls everything. Your task is to walk joyfully into it and do with all your heart what lies before you knowing that every step you take your dear Father saw if you like a million years ago but really it’s just half a millisecond ago. God saw it all and arranged it all.
So really resting is reality. Resting in him is reality. Resting in the fact that God has already done it all, has seen it all. “I am resting, resting in the joy of what thou art.” Let us pray.