Bread – Sovereign

July 9, 2014


Readings for Wednesday, July 9, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Deut. 1:1-18; Rom. 9:1-18; Matt. 23:27-39; Psalms 12,13,14,119:1-24

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Who or what is sovereign in your life? Who is the sovereign to whom you owe allegiance, who has power over you?

A liberal might answer the question by saying that the central authority, the government, is king. A royalist might say that the sovereign is the king or queen. A conservative might say that the sovereign is the individual. Idols can also reign sovereign in our lives. Money can be the thing with authority. Others (say our family) might be the sovereign. Our boss might be our sovereign, with our whole purpose in life being devoted to pleasing him or her. Even our house can be our sovereign if it is what dictates to us what we do and how we do it.

For Christians, the knee jerk reaction is to say that God is sovereign. Other religions might say the same thing, with different emphases on the nature of God.

But is that really true?

Today in our reading from Romans, Paul says some things which are totally consistent with the sovereignty of God but which run counter to many theological notions about our role (our individual sovereignty) in the process:

“This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring….though they were not yet born and done nothing either good or bad – in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of Him who calls – she was told, ‘The older [Esau] shall serve the younger [Jacob].’…What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, Who has mercy…So then He has mercy on whomever He wills, and He hardens whomever He wills.” Rom. 9:8-18

In summary, God is sovereign and we are not. God chooses whom He will, not who earns his or way into His good graces.

There are huge implications to this understanding. For example, can one lose his or her salvation if chosen by God for salvation? Our tendency is to say “yes,” but then who is sovereign, God or us? And if we cannot lose our salvation because God is sovereign, then how did we gain our salvation except by sovereign work of God? Our tendency again is to say that “Well, we chose God,” but if that is the case, who is sovereign, us or God?

The truth is that we do have a role as sovereigns. God gives us kingship over fish, birds, and over “every living thing,” as well as earth (Gen. 1:28). But does our role as sovereign over the earth and animals extend to a role as sovereign over God? Are we equal to God where it is “our will be done?”

Who is sovereign over our life? Who is sovereign over my life? Who is sovereign over your life? Do we answer one thing and behave another?

I think there are five choices of who is king. The first choice is ourselves. I am king. The second choice is the state, the collective, the “community.” We together are king. The third choice is other people. She is king or they are king. The fourth choice is things. It is king. And the fifth choice is God. Yahweh – “I am.”

We are tempted to say “all of the above” depending upon the circumstances. But there can only be one king in the room at a time.

Who is that?

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© 2014 GBF

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