Join me, my friend, in the spiritual disciplines of becoming a Kung Fu Christian. Today’s lesson – the Sovereignty of God in all things.
Hi-ya! Watcha! Here we go!
As a loving father of a 3 year old I had the duty of taking my son to see the recently released Dreamworks animated movie “Kung Fu Panda”. (Of course as an animator and artist I wanted to see it anyway!) As a whole, the movie was very enjoyable (actually better than I imagined) with more than a few good gut laughs at the Panda’s expense in learning Kung-Fu. All cool fight scenes aside, however, there were some statements made during the movie that were worth exploring further. Let us test them to see if they hold up to the truth of God’s word and what it means in our lives as Kung Fu Christians!
There were, of course, the few obligatory zen-like references in being one with nature and the universe. However, the movie stayed away from religious discussions for the most part. The exception was a single statement that is repeated several times (and the movie even made fun of itself for doing this). In doing so, I would expect that this statement was the primary point the movie was trying to present as its core belief.
The line I want to discuss today is simply this: “There are no accidents.”
Ah, what a deep and wonderful truth for a kids movie to embrace – especially in times of trouble. Knowing that there are no accidents in the world is something that I have come to cherish over the past year more and more. It reminds me that God is Sovereign over all things and gives me strength as a Kung Fu Christian to fight evil in my life (within and without).
I know…I know…in the movie, there is no anchoring of this statement in anything or anyone other than a universal fate of some kind. So it would seem easy to conclude (according to the panda) that we cannot escape our mystical destiny. In our world, fate is most often considered as a predetermined course of events beyond human control or intervention. The problem with this kind of ungrounded belief in an all encompassing fate is that it quickly leads to total resignation. After all, if we can’t change our destiny, then why even try? (Kay Serra Serra) Whatever happens, happens, and we are powerless to do anything about it.
Let me be clear, this is called “fatalism,” and it is not biblical.
Fatalism is most often identified with Islam, a faith which requires total submission to the “Will of Allah”. Hinduism, also encourages a fatalistic view of life and is to blame for the caste system that still exists in India and similar countries. However, fatalism is NOT a biblical concept.
So then, if it is not fatalism that the Bible teaches, then what? And how is fatalism different from God’s sovereignty? The answer to this is a spiritual truth that (when properly understood) will empower you to become a Kung-Fu Christian! So, let’s explore the ways of the master together…shall we?
I believe the key difference between fatalism and a true Bible grounded understanding of God’s Sovereignty in the events of this world can be summed up in one word: Accountability. Throughout the course of Scripture there seems to be a reoccurring theme of being held accountable for our choices. “He who sows wickedness reaps trouble” (Proverbs 22:8a). “All hard work brings a profit, / but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23). “Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you” (Romans 13:3).
All references to destiny in the Scripture, point to the destiny that people bring upon themselves: “Many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction” (Philippians 3:18-19). “This is the fate of those who trust in themselves” (Psalm 49:13). “A man who commits adultery lacks judgment; / whoever does so destroys himself” (Proverbs 6:32). “Each person was judged according to what he had done” (Revelation 20:13).
Always present in each of these references is a implied “cause and effect” relationship in which the results are a justified response to the choices made by individuals or people groups. To put it simply, we sin because we choose to. However, even in our sin, there is a limit to our “free will” (and where many people fail to see the truth of what God has displayed in scripture)
FACT: Because of mankind’s choice to sin in the garden, we are forever under the curse of sin and are now a sinful people from birth, who (being complete in our sin) are free to choose sin and therefore Sin is what we choose every time.
To be clear, “fate” is not to blame for our choices, neither is predestination, or God. James 1:13-14 says, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.” So, we choose sin (and we do it willfully) but at the same time, we are not the sovereign masters of our fate.
Only God is sovereign. His sovereign control often called “providence” is the only power that is ultimately at work in every situation. God, in his mercy, has chosen to give us a will of our own, and He has created a moral universe in which the law of cause-and-effect is a reality.
God is God alone, he knows all things that happen and even predestines them to happen, which means there are (as Kung Fu Panda suggests) no “accidents” in the universe.
The Bible speaks many times of a the divine plan of God. God’s plan, since it belongs to God, is holy, wise, and benevolent. The providence of God is working to bring about His original plan for creation and is unchanged by the acts of man in times since. God speaks in Isaiah 48:3, “I foretold the former things long ago, / my mouth announced them and I made them known; / then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.” What God announces, He does – end of story.
It is pointless to fight against the plan of God. “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan / that can succeed against the LORD” (Proverbs 21:30). The Tower of Babel was never completed (Genesis 11:1-9) Jonah never made it to Tarshis, God sent a fish to catch him (Jonah 1:17). You and I still get in trouble when we sin. God’s plan cannot be changed in our lives. Do you think for a moment it was Saul’s idea to meet Christ and become a Christian when up to that moment in his life he had spent his every waking moment thinking of ways to persecute and execute Christians? No, God wanted Saul and nothing was going to keep him from becoming the Paul God wanted him to be.
So then, are there some events in life that God “turns a blind eye toward” while still working out his plan? The answer from scripture is NO! In fact, what we would normally call “chance” or “fate” is even under God’s control. “The lot is cast into the lap, / but its every decision is from the LORD” (Proverbs 16:33). In other words, never takes a back seat approach to running the world. Not even the sparrow falling from the sky, or a flower fading in a field escapes his plan.
Everything that happens in the world is made to work out according to God’s purpose. While this sounds great on the surface, here is the kicker that most people struggle with.
Evil exists. If God is in ultimate control of this world why does evil exist in the first place?
Ah, but that, my friend, is a lesson for another day!
Until then, be at peace knowing that God is in control of the plans of this world. It is the only way we can defeat evil within us and without. Submit your will to his and watch what he can do through you.
Expect big things.