Someone said to me recently, “ … all’s right with the world.” They meant that once this problem of theirs got fixed, then all would be well.
Actually, the quote is from “Pippa’s Song” by Robert Browning. The full quotation is, “God’s in his heaven--All’s right with the world.” Browning is looking at nature and how everything is working together as God created it. God’s plan is perfect. And when it all comes together we should attribute it to the goodness of God and be thankful.
But it raises a good question, “What does it mean that God’s in his heaven?”
Some folks mean that God is far away from us and our world and that’s a good thing because it means he’s not interfering with human freedom. They think it’s good to be without God, free from his intrusion. We can make of this world what we want it to be.
But this is both naïve and troubling. It is naïve because it assumes human planning is always for the good. And it is troubling because it assumes human activity always brings good. History dispels that myth. Humans act selfishly with malice aforethought much of the time. They act with evil intent. Man’s inhumanity to man is well known.
It is pure folly to believe we can create a good life for ourselves and a good world for others without divine help. This was the first and greatest sin. Adam and Eve rejected God’s offer to order their lives wisely and well. They were saying in essence, “You don’t know what’s best for us, God. We do. So just go away.” Sin entered human life and has wreaked havoc ever since. Only a fool asks God to go away and not bother us.
On the other hand, Biblical faith tells us that God is involved in his creation whether we want him or not—thankfully. He sheds his grace on us even if we don’t believe he exists or don’t want him. Jesus said this in Matthew 5: 45: “God makes his sun to shine on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.” Metaphorically, sun and rain are the essence of God’s goodness because in the Middle East they mean life. So atheists and agnostics are blessed by God’s common grace just like believers, though they may not be aware of it or be thankful for it.
The God of the Bible is an intervening God. He works for good with people and nations. He guides human history. He directs those who are willing to listen to his voice. He empowers those who ask his help.
The gift of prayer is God agreeing to enter our world continually and work with us. An isolated God would not bother with prayer. God wants to involve himself with his world because he loves it and us. His sending of Jesus Christ into this life is the proof that he wants to be with us. He forgives us through Christ and saves us. He even puts his Holy Spirit in us to give us peace, purpose and power. Now that’s an intervening God.
So when we say, “God’s in his heaven …” we really mean he’s working things out according to his wise and wonderful plan because of love. Things can be right with the world only when we invite him in. He is above us but also right here with us. THANK GOD!
Ken Shick, Interim Pastor