Christians in the West are often quite good at trusting in God as our rock. We are taught doctrine, told that God is sovereign. We are taught that he stands behind every event that happens and is working for our good (Romans 8:28). Even when other people do things to us from a bad motive, we may respond like Joseph and say “you meant that for my harm, but God meant it for good.”
God, we learn, is unmovable. He is like a fortress we can hide in. He is unshakeable and faithful. “Ascribe greatness to our God the rock, his work is perfect and all his ways are just, a God of faithfulness and without injustice, good and upright is he!” (Deuteronomy 32:3-4).
God is so dependable that even “if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself”(2 Tim 2:13) . He is unshakeable, nothing can move him. Theologians talk about his impassibility. When the nations rebel against him, the one enthroned in heaven laughs (Psalm 2).
And yet. The one who we have said cannot be moved, can in fact be moved. This is no contradiction. How then can you move the immovable?
Faith in the dependable God we have been talking about could be called resting or passive faith. It is peaceful, stilling our hearts, and determining to trust God in the midst of the storm.
There is, however, another kind of faith that we in the West are generally not so familiar with. This is active faith, and this is what moves God. When Jesus met Lazarus’ sisters, he was moved to compassion and provoked by their sorrow, but also by their faith. Active faith lays ahold of Gods promises and cries out to him to fulfil them. Paul speaks of how Elijah appeals to God (Romans 11:2). Daring to believe God and urging him to act turns Gods heart towards us.2 Chronicles 33:13 tells us that Manasseh “prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea.”
Jesus is often described in the gospels as being “moved with compassion” when people entreated him, and as a result he healed them.
Passive faith relies on God as the immovable dependable rock on which we can stand. Active faith causes us to appeal to Gods sense of compassion, justice, mercy, and righteousness. He is able to be moved. He wants us to step out and dare to ask him to act.
There are some who seem to focus so much on asking God for things, that the undergirding trust in his faithfulness is apparently absent. But if we only focus on him as the sovereign immovable king we are in just as precarious a position. To deny Gods power and become fatalistic is not glorifying his name. We need both of these kinds of faith and we need the God who is both movable and immovable.
The ideas in this post came out of a conversation I had with my very wise and insightful wife this afternoon. I pray it will be encouraging to many of you.