Study Guide: Trusting In God Knows What

Sunday February 20, 2011 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

When we lock our doors or buy insurance, are we trusting in God? In this sermon, Greg talks about what it looks like to trust God in a broken world. He also talks about what protection looks like when following Jesus. Greg also tries telling a joke. We apologize for that.

Extended Summary:

Christians often wonder what it looks like to trust in God. Are we not trusting in God when we make choices in this world to protect ourselves? Take for instance locking the doors. If we don’t lock our doors, someone could break in and hurt our families or steal our stuff. But if we lock the doors, aren’t we protecting ourselves and not trusting God to protect us?

Many of us haven’t dwelt on what God’s protection looks like. We tend to think that God has a plan for us and that He is working good in our lives. God loves us and doesn’t want bad things to happen to us. We, subconsciously or consciously, trust God to make our lives go smoothly and without any harm.
However, protection from God doesn’t work this way. In fact, Jesus promises us the opposite–that following him will create hardship in your life. Christ-followers should expect a rough time in this life because when we say Jesus is Lord, then the things of this world will no longer rule us. And when that happens, we can expect that things in this world will reject us.

Some people look to the Old Testament for answers on God’s protection. In fact, it does say that God will protect his people if they walk in his ways and follow the law. However, there are two main reasons why we can’t expect the same in our situation.

The first is we can’t draw strict parallels between the promises to the nation of Israel and to us as individuals. When God was promising protection in the Old Testament, he was addressing the nation-state of Israel. He promised that if they followed his laws, he would protect them. However, we know that this didn’t work out well, and it seems like a negative-object lesson where God was showing humanity that trying to live by a law wouldn’t work. We are not the nation-state of Israel, so we have to be really careful about which promises we apply to our lives from the Old Testament.

The second reason is we are under a new covenant and not subject to the old covenant. Sure, it would be great to have a list of rules to follow and if we followed them, God would fully protect us. However, we’ve seen that humanity fails at this. Great theory, but bad practicality. Instead, we live under the new covenant brought by Jesus where we don’t have a law to live under. Instead, we live under God’s righteousness in our lives–and not our own.

So, where then is God in all of our suffering and trials in this life? God has promised his children two main things when it comes to his protection in life. He promised that he has good plans for us and that everything will eventually come into the head of Christ.

God has good plans for us, but this can be easily misunderstood. God’s plans are not the exact future plans that will happen. There are multiple variables when it comes to whether or not God’s plan comes to fruition. He has given us freedom to love him, but that also means that we can choose to not follow his plan, or to mess up his plan for other people. Even the supernatural forces (angels and demons) get in on the act, as they have some control over things that happen in this world. However, God always has a good plan for us, no matter the situation or what changes in our situation. He is infinitely wise and can change with the shifting circumstances to bring good in our lives.

Eventually, all things will come into the head of Christ. This is to say, one day everything will be as God wants it to be. This is the second coming of Christ, and it is an event that we can look forward to as certainly happening. God promises that one day the world will look as he intended it to be, and it will bring all things under the headship of Christ. Everything will be made new. Sin and death will be no more. It’d be great if that time came sooner rather than later, but God is working the world towards that end, and he has promised that it will come.

Go ahead and lock your doors at night, purchase insurance if you can, and prepare for the bad things of life. This is wisdom in an uncertain world, and God gave us that wisdom. It doesn’t mean you don’t trust God; it means that you are using what God gave you to deal with the things of this world. Trust that God is working good in every situation for you, and trust that one day everything will come under the headship of Christ. These are the promises of God’s protection in our lives.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What questions and comments did you have about the sermon and supporting texts?
  2. What do you think about the idea that God’s will isn’t the only variable in this world? Do you agree with Greg?
  3. Before this sermon, what did you think about God’s protection for your life? Do you think differently now?
  4. When it comes to the two promises of God that Greg outlined, what are some practical ways to live by these promises? How would your life look different if you believed in these two promises?
  5. Who are some people in your life that can help hold you accountable to living life differently under these promises? In what ways can they help you live life according to these promises?