The other day I was walking back to my dorm with a close friend of mine, talking about our excitement on the upcoming interdenominational theological debates we will be holding next semester for our psudo-Pre-Seminary Club. As we talked, we wondered what kind of topics would we discuss. So we started listing some, which included: baptism, eternal security, holiness, sanctification, works, gifts of the spirit, speaking in tongues, free-will, and predestination.
As we talked more about predestination, I explained my point-of-view to my friend, only to watch her stop in mid-gait in puzzlement and look at me strangely for next few minutes as I continued to explain. I never thought of my views as special or unique. In fact, I never really even looked up anyone else's opinion on predestination until after I had come up with this analogy I am about to describe. After her reaction, I thought it would be nice to share it with you.
I wouldn't label myself as a "Calvinist" or "Westlyian" or any label like that. I am what I am. I believe what I believe. I'm not going to try to convince you to believe what I believe, but here is how I see God-working in the universe:
I want you to imagine walking into a Kindergarten classroom that is about to participate in their art-activity. The teacher has all sorts of materials all over the table--colored pencils, crayons, markers, paint, and chalk--in all sorts of colors. The kids cover up with smocks and sit down at the table. The teacher tells the class they can draw whatever they want, but they have to use the color blue somewhere in their painting.
The children start off, grabbing materials, throwing paint and markers all over the place. The teacher walks around the room, helping the students when she can, keeping control, and offering advice when they ask. When they are done, they put them on the drying racks in the corner, hang their smocks up, and run over to the other corner for their story time.
At the end of the day, after the kids have all gone and the drawings have dried, she looks at them. Some kids have such beautiful artwork, while some are more abstract. She also notices that many of the kids did not use the color blue at all in their paintings. Still, she sees a master plan behind them all.
The next day as the kids come in, they see all of their paintings hung on a wall in a beautiful mosaic. The teacher had arranged the ones who used blue in such a way as they took precedence, standing out among the others. Every painting was used, and they were inter-woven through each other to form a beautiful landscape.
God is the same with us. He gave us one command: believe/trust/rely on Me. "Follow me," is all He told the disciples to do. He is the only way to heaven. It's as simple as using blue in a painting.
Jesus then helps us out using that blue. He goes through out lives, guiding our strokes of the color, if we let him. Suggesting that we do this over here, or do that over there. Sometimes He takes over completely, if we let Him, and we sit back and watch Him work on the painting of our lives.
In the end, He takes the painting of our lives and hangs it up in the grand scheme of time, next to the other paintings that didn't follow Him. Just like the parable of the weeds and the wheat, we stand in time next to those who chose not to follow Him (Matt 13:24-30). God did not force those people to not listen to Him, but He did choose where to place them in time and controls how dominant their lives become and how they interact with those around them, just like the paintings.
All in all, it is a co-dependency of salvation: we CANNOT get to heaven on our own, but God does not force us against our will to join Him or go away from Him. God offers His hand go us, but we also have to take the hand. God gives us a gift of an abundant life, but we have to receive it and open it up.
The teacher told the students what to do, and in the end, she graded them (judged them) on using the color blue. She had a standard to go by. She couldn't break that. Just like God has His perfect holy Justice He will follow. He will judge us according to how we lived our lives, and no matter how awesome our painting looked, if we didn't use blue, we get a zero.
When God first thought of man, He looked down through time and saw those who would follow Him and who wouldn't. He then chose (elected) those who would follow Him for his beautiful mural and masterpiece, and predestined men for that path. Even if they did not choose Him, He still worked them into his final product, and although they got a zero, He still predestined them in his final product.
Predestination is a beautiful blending of God's will and ours. We may choose our paths, but God ultimately is the one is charge. In the end, He is the one holding all the paintings.
So what do you think?
Have you used the color blue? How much are you using? Can you use more? Remember, it's a lot easier when you let the teacher help you. ;)
Following His Call,