What I’m Reading Today: Acts 3
I’m always amazed at what a huge difference there is between various translations/interpretations of the Bible. Case in point: today’s passage from Acts.
In the New Revised Standard Version, Acts 3:17-18 says that Peter told his audience: “And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your rulers. In this way God fulfilled what God had foretold through all the prophets…” This translation makes it sound as if God caused the actions of the people and their rulers.
In Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of the passage, the message is conveyed slightly differently. The culminating words of the passage read: “But God, who through the preaching of all the prophets had said all along that God’s Messiah would be killed, knew exactly what you were doing and used it to fulfill God’s plans.” In this paraphrasing, it makes it sound more like God simply worked through their actions rather than caused their actions.
So what’s the difference between God causing something versus God working through something? Isn’t it simply a matter of semantics?
No. Or perhaps I should say, “Not for me.” I see a huge difference between the two.
It would be hard for me to embrace a God who I believed caused the heart-ache that all of us live with. It would be hard, for instance, for me to embrace a God who caused my mother’s degenerative bone disease that has kept her in constant pain for the last 30+ years. It would be equally hard for me to embrace a God who caused my friend Ryan’s addiction to drugs and alcohol – a problem that is literally destroying his life.
I can, however, embrace a God whose presence can be manifest in such difficult situations. I can embrace a God who has been present in the midst of my mother’s pain in such a way that all of us around her have learned to appreciate the moments of reprieve from pain - rather than take those moments for granted like most people do. I can embrace a God who has been present in the midst of Ryan’s addictions in such a way that those around him have learned the difference between helping and enabling – a lesson we might have never learned otherwise.
As you face the challenges of today, I would encourage you to explore for yourself the difference between a God who causes the occurrences of the day versus a God who is present in the midst of the occurrences.
Til next time…