Balanced Thinking

One of the great ways that the gospel shapes our minds is that it teaches us to weigh and hold two truths at the same time, in order to think rightly about, well, just about anything. After all, at the cross, God was both just in dealing with our sins, and also the justifier of the one who has faith in him (Romans 3:26).

Let’s apply this two-truths-at-once to how we think about various political debacles in our state. In the last couple years, some public school teachers have been revealed to be espousing evil doctrines to our kids; the unemployment office fell down on its job with delivering checks; and voting irregularities were revealed. We could add previous debacles to the list – those unfinished train overpasses come to mind.

Each of these are problems. But again, the Bible teaches us to think with “balanced” thinking, and yet not in a way that one thought destroys or overwhelms the other thought. Don’t worry – this is not a cop-out about these problems. It’s biblical – we’re taught not to analyze a problem by isolating only one feature of it (see Proverbs 18:17). So what would this “balanced” thinking look like?

One biblical doctrine that must enter our minds, in each of these issues is that of “common grace”. God’s “particular grace” is when He grants repentance and faith to a lost soul and redeems them. On the other hand, His “common” grace is the good that He pours out across the entire world, to the just and the unjust, to the good and the evil:

Matthew 5:45 For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

He does this through natural means, as well as through the means of people. As Martin Luther put it once or thrice, God wears the butcher, baker, and banker as His “mask”, as He pushes good into the world through them – whether they acknowledge Him as God and Creator and Savior or not. That is, whether or not a person has been given “particular” grace, God often pours out “common” grace to the world, through them.

This includes people who work for the public schools; for employees of the EDD; and for agents of the County Registrar, in the elections office. Among these agencies are consummate professionals, whom God uses to produce many good outcomes through these offices. While we may ask for more details about what has gone wrong, we may also ask why it has not been worse. And the answer, largely, is these ordinary, unsung people, whom God wears as His mask, to push some good into the world.

Now, again, does this obviate the need to investigate and root out wrongdoing? Of course not. We do not lessen our calls of complaint against evildoers who harm our children, who abuse a system meant to help the needy, and who disenfranchise voters. Not one bit.

But we do with a strange duality, that only the gospel can teach a person – a strange thankfulness, for God’s common grace, working through many hard-working, skilled people.