"We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose." ~ Romans 8:28 (Amplified)
This is one of my very favourite verses. I am sure that many Christians boast the same thing, but not for the same reasons.
I recently perused a book at a local Christian store. The title caught my eye, "10 Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe". My first thought, Finally! Someone is addressing the idiocies of Christianity! Thank you! I was more than a little relieved and completely tickled to find this verse in Romans referenced in the publication. Those who know me well know that I have had a bone to pick regarding this topic for a long time. Here goes.
I cannot begin to count how many Christians I have heard quote a portion of this verse. And I'm not just talking about new believers who don't know any better. I'm talking about people who have been born and raised in the Church. People who have sat under Sunday school, children's church, sermons, Bible school. The whole she-bang.
Sometimes I wonder if people ever think before they speak. I kid you not, I have heard this, "It's okay, I can do what I want. The Bible says God works everything together for good for those who love Him. I'm a Christian, I love God, so it will all work out!". And they believe this! These are often the same people who think it's okay to continually (and knowingly, might I add) commit the same sin and say, "It's okay, it's all under grace. God will forgive me." (It is true that God will forgive you, but He also gave you a brain - use it.)
Again, when quoting scripture, let's first of all, quote the whole thing. I've started with the Amplified version because it gives such great insight for this verse. Romans 8 is NOT telling us that everything will work out for good simply because we are Christians. Don't bother arguing with me. We (Christians) still get sick, we still screw up, we still sin, we still die (physically). These are not things that I would list in the "good" column of life. Those things right there should put these non-thinking Christians to rest. But in case this argument is not enough, I will continue to expound.
I recently had a conversation with a non-Christian friend of mine. Said friend had recently spend some time in Las Vegas. I told this person that I don't know what I'd do in Vegas. It's just not for me. My amiga then asked if I thought I was missing out on anything living out the life God has chosen for me. My response, "Honestly, no." Here's why:
I truly believe that my life could not possibly be any better living out worldy ways than following God's call for me. This is what Romans 8:28 is talking about. It's not about becoming a Christian and then everything will be alright. I feel so sorry for new sisters and brothers in the faith who are led to believe this. James 1:2 says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds." I am fairly certain that this statement was not a mistake and, since we know that the Bible does not contradict itself, we can be sure that we, as Christians, are bound to come across difficult times.
What I take Romans 8:28 to mean is that, if we are walking the path God has set before us, He will work things out for good for HIS purpose. This is not about going to God with our plans and asking Him to bless us and let us go along our merry way. This is about going to God, seeking His will for our lives and doing everything we can to follow His call for us. Nothing in our lives can be better than serving God and following His will for us. He created us all for a purpose.
If you read on in Romans you will find that God had a plan for you before you ever existed and He made a way for that plan to come to pass. In a world where we are born into sin, He created a way for us to be reborn in to righteousness. He made it possible for us to live holy and justified in Him. He has set a path for us and all we have to do is walk it! Knowing that, how could anyone think we are missing out in life? I live for the creator of life, the maker of all that was, is and ever will be! He created me with a purpose. He made a way for me to live the life He set out for me. How selfish to think that we, in our human nature, could live a better life than the one our Maker has planned for us?
God does not work out everything for the good of those who love Him. He works out everything for good for those who love Him who He called according to HIS design and purpose. It is not our plans and designs that He will work out for good, it is HIS plans and designs He will work out. God, in His infinite love and wisdom, made a way for us to walk with Him, this is what He will work out for good.
And in the end, it's all for our own good.