There’s someone I pray for because they don’t believe in God. I talk to them about God and then pray for them, and then when I can’t sleep at night because I’m thinking about them, I say, “I have to leave this in God’s hands.”
I don’t know if that’s theologically sound or not.
It sounds right. But the person who looks at the poor without doing anything and says “I have to leave this in God’s hands” sounds wrong to me. But then the person who serves the poor and realizes they can’t save everyone and says the same thing again sounds right. I can only say this: often the way I use “It’s in God’s hands” isn’t as much a theological claim as an escape. It’s my way of saying, “I’m not going to work on this anymore, and I’d like to baptize that decision.”
The place where the Church’s mission fails is where Christians start to believe that the Church is magic.
A friend of mine really doesn’t know how to handle money. I mean praying-over-the-lottery-ticket doesn’t know how to handle money. So when it comes time to think about saving, budgeting, and spending wisely, he says that God will just take care of it anyway. For him, the church is magic. When he comes to that place where he just can’t figure it out, he let’s God take credit for the results. The Church is magic…I don’t need to know how to do it.
We could call this, “spiritualizing our weaknesses.” It’s the point at which, rather than admitting I don’t know what I’m doing, I claim that my faith is so strong that I don’t need to know what I’m doing. Faith is the Great Oz; my ability is the little man hiding behind the curtain.
I wonder what the Church would look like if for just one year we Christians, in deepest faith, agreed to admit to the places where we just need help and not fall back on a magic Church.
I have a friend who used to step into the pulpit without a sermon written, because, he said, the Holy Spirit would just speak to him when he got there. One week he got into the pulpit and honestly felt like the Holy Spirit was saying to him, “You’re just being lazy.”