Things must make sense… all the time… or we struggle.  2 + 2 must equal four.  Oil and water don’t mix.  Fall follows Summer, Summer follows Spring, Spring follows Winter, Winter follows Fall.  If or when things don’t fit what makes sense to us, our reality gets turned upside down.

But Christians must learn to function… and thrive… in a belief system that doesn’t make sense to the rational human mind.  Without thriving in the midst of theological tension, our faith falls apart.  For example…

There is one God of three distinct persons… God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  Deny that truth and the Christian faith is lost.

Jesus was 100% God and 100% man… at the same time.  Deny that truth and a person is not a true Christian.

Jesus’ mother (Mary) conceived him while a virgin.  Deny that truth and a person is not a Christian.

However, there is a tension many Christians (At least in my denomination) haven’t learned to live with and affirm.  The result of rejecting this theological truth has caused churches to split… ministers to be fired (Or forced to leave)… and many theological arguments (Not discussions mind you).  Here is the truth…

God is 100% sovereign AND man is 100% responsible for all his actions… at the same time.

Most people say either: God is sovereign and in control to the point that man can only do what God purposes.  Or, Man is completely free to do whatever he desires and God is bound by the will of man.  Both groups reject the other’s propositions.  I say (Along with many others) that God IS 100% sovereign all the time AND man is 100% responsible for everything he does… at the same time.  Consider for example Philippians 2:12-13

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Paul asserts in v 13 that GOD is the one working in the Christian to will HIS good pleasure.  In v 12 the Christian is commanded to live, act, walk, talk, and do what is consistent with being a Christian precisely because God is working in them to will HIS good pleasure.  Those are contradictory in many people’s mind, but true for every believer.

So… Christians… know that GOD is working to MAKE you who He wills you to be.  He will be successful.  He will not fail.  THEREFORE, you must work hard to become more like Jesus… otherwise you will fail to mature in Christ.  Both are true even though they exist in tension… even though they seem to be contradictory.  Here’s how Paul understood it in 1 Corinthians 15:10

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.