A Sanctuary Doctrine for Regular Flourishing
My fellow Ruling Elder, John, and I are currently teaching through the standards of our beloved Orthodox Presbyterian Church. In God’s kindness, he taught a class yesterday on Chapter 5 of the Westminster Confession of Faith. This is the chapter on God's sovereign reign, his providence:
"God the great Creator of all things
doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern
all creatures, actions, and things,
from the greatest even to the least,
by his most wise and holy providence,
according to his infallible foreknowledge,
and the free and immutable counsel of his own will,
to the praise of the glory
of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy."
There is so much that can and should be contemplated as we consider this doctrine, and we had a wonderful time doing just that in our sanctuary of sound teaching yesterday! But, this morning, it was coffee-brewing and sun-rising and traffic-jams and growing-to-do-lists that greeted our six days of living out the truth in our daily labors. In that context, an important implication of the doctrine we’ve confessed as a church comes to the forefront — our regular labors, tedious or overwhelming, momentary in their outcome or grand in effect, are:
- to the praise of his glory.
That sure makes all the regular stuff of life matter. The regular stuff matters. It matters to God, so it matters for prayer. Trust. Obedience. Hope. Joy. Love. Perseverance…
In contrast to this view of a God-ordained, upheld, directed life, this article in the Federalist highlights a culture in which people are turning inward, taking on victimhood as a virtue, and hating their jobs. I thought, "you know, the doctrine of providence is good medicine." I hope you’ll join me in swallowing the pill: contemplating and believing this wonderful cure to a self-focus that pulls us away from laboring with joy, turns our interaction with others into a marxist quest for power, and makes the first one to cross the victim-line the winner.
Though much more could be said about how the truth of God's sovereign providence should change the way we think and feel and live, this is what has been bouncing around in my head since yesterday:
If God, the good and great Creator, is before and under and after everything, every-man, every-deed, everything I do, and everything happening to me, then the little stuff of life matters (secondary causes and whatnot). It all matters, not ultimately because of how I feel in that moment, but because it is upheld, directed, disposed, and governed to the praise of his glory.
And, good news, children of God, that's our chief end and joy!
So, read the article about our miserably regular existence, but then let's turn our thoughts to the life-affirming (flourishing!) truth that our God reigns (even outside the sanctuary!)