Shotgun Puppets: Is God a Micro-Manager?

26 thoughts on “Shotgun Puppets: Is God a Micro-Manager?”

  1. That makes a whole lotta sense… thanks for the article. I totally agree. Keep it up. Peace, Love, and Chocolate Milk.

    AnDy B.

  2. this really blessed me. my husband and i have had this discussion many times, always coming to the conclusion that serving God takes effort – seek, ask, knock… He’s not gonna do it all for us – it’s up to us individually and collectively to work out our soul’s salvation.
    thanks again

    b blessed:)

    kimily b.

  3. Kimily,

    Glad I could be of assistance, no matter how small or insignificant. Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

    Blessings to you and your husband as you continue to follow after God’s heart.

    Jesse

  4. thank you.
    being a worship leader and fellow youth leader, i found this article amazingly refreshing. Its increadible to me that so much of the time the people god uses are the broken, imperfect, the messed up; not so that he can show how he “took control”, but that he is truly a god of grace, and love, and mercy.

  5. Home run Jesse!!!!

    I have always tried to get people to view this wonderful relationship with God as a “partnership.” After all, God did make us in HIS image, so we should be able to do “God” things (in a finite way), if we only will. (. . . now who’s the heretic?)

    So, have you read much Finney?? I think he’s the original heretic. Many times as I read you articles I hear Finney’s concepts. He messed me up and made me the heretic that I am.

  6. Jesse, I’ve always loved your writing, just when people might start to get offended, you pull out the ultimate meaning and it just hits you…POW…man, yes, that is exactly how it is! Thanks for always sharing “the other side”

  7. So I don’t actually think Jesse is a heretic but I do want to challenge the thought process here. I agree that saying “It is Jesus singing through me” is a bit ridiculous but what are we really having issue with. Yes Jesus uses US and we are not simply another skin, he has given US abilities to use for the body; so we are partners. But is the real issue the theology or the apparent Christianese. 1 Cor. 10:31, Col. 3:17, and 1 Peter 4:11 all suggest that Jesus should ultimately receive the glory for all we do. The leaders in the Reformation used the term Soli Deo Gloria for a reason. Now the previous said statement is misinformed but should we not give Jesus the glory when we have the opportunity? Would it not be better for said worship leader to point to Jesus in a way that is not filled with Christianese? Just giving some push back here and some food for thought.

    Also before you continue to claim to be heretics you might want to read G.K. Chesterton’s book titled Heretics. It can be found here: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/chesterton/heretics.toc.html

  8. Son, I enjoy your articles.. You tell it like it is which I’m sure makes people stop and think,,I know it does cause your words and thoughts effect me..you are doing good things in your life and I’m so proud of you.Yes proud !!

  9. enjoy your journey of re-discovery and maybe even re-defining; being a disciple of Jesus is a lifetime adventure – lots of learning, growing, challenges and unknowns! thanks for the challenges you present here

  10. Thanks all for your comments. I am honored by them.

    Autumn – Glad I could help. Really. And I hope and pray that whatever God is doing in you will continue to be done. I don’t know why, but your comment struck a chord in me. Please let me know if there is anything I can be praying for you about. If so, I’ll contact the site admins and get your email address and we’ll talk there.

    Jon – I love you man. We’ll talk via webcam later.

  11. I am not sure I make sense of why we would want control. Sounds good to tell others, especially our non believing friends. Makes us feel strong but when a sovereign mighty Father that DOES control everything and has power in all things can and will use us right where we are takes control, does it make sense to say, “Hold on Jesus, let me drive some!” We don’t always know where we are going. Our tendancy is to avoid the harder routes and that is not always His will for us. We have to take the harder routes sometimes in order for us to grow and NOT be just puppets but mirrors of HIS Grace. There is nothing that He does not control. So I am all for Him driving. Infact if I want to drive sometimes, I have had Him take over anyhow as I sit kicking and screaming. At the end, He was right. Always was, is and will be.

    PS. Also, my taste in music rules!

  12. Cory – Thanks so much for your comments. I see your points. Mind if we continue this conversation for a bit?

    (No, I’m not waiting on your answer. It was rhetorical!)

    First of all, this is in no way an attempt to water down anything about God so that unbelievers won’t think him so scandalous.

    Second, I tend to think that we go through stages. Initially, you’re right, it is somewhat better for the person to surrender all control and learn to depend solely on God, listen to his voice, etc. No argument there. What my article attempts to address are those times when we would rather remain immature settling instead for God to do all the work (which is often only a guise/excuse for our own inaction).

    Third, we need to come to terms with the fact that God’s desire is to work in and through his people, not by taking control and pushing them out of the way, so to speak, but by growing them, teaching them, and giving them the tools they need to get the job done. Even Jesus used this kind of language when he said “I do what I see the Father doing” – the Father didn’t take over, he showed Jesus what to do and let Jesus do it.

    Also, if we’re listening to God while we drive, we WILL know where we’re going.

    P.S. Perhaps you do have good taste in music, but Jesus is way better than you at air guitar.

  13. I am sorry but I disagree. God was in control of Jesus mainly because they are One. Also, I don’t think you can say that you were in control when you say “God works through us” meaning God has control there also. When we are in control, then we start doing things like eating fruit we should not. We are incapable of doing good outside of God. Not possible, not matter how poetic we wright it or how bad we hope for it. Good means God did it…not me. The first couple of chapters of Epheshians explains, there are no stages. God owns you from before time. Chose you before the foundations of the world. Now I totally understand the “immature” settling…I LOVE to forget I am not in control, but I don’t think I could write that it was “ok” to be that way. So I guess we agree to disagree, but God will be driving my car no matter who looks down on me for it. And while he drives, I am going to play the meanest air guitar solo for Him.

  14. Jesse, let me thank you for a very challenging article, as it has caused me to dig deep into the Bible to better understand key concepts. I would like to challenge your theory though. If I understood – you first asked:

  15. Mariah – I’m sorry for not including puppies in this article. Besides, though, shotguns and puppies usually don’t mix well.

    The funny thing is that the URL still says puppies!

  16. Soren – Thanks for the compliment.

    Bedson – Dude, thanks for checking out the article and I’m glad it was helpful for you. Please come visit me this summer – we would have so many good conversations!

    Bill – No, actually, I haven’t read Finney, but I hear good things about him. I’ll have to keep an eye out for his work. Any book recommendations?

  17. Natalia,

    Wow, thanks so much for digging so deep into this, I really appreciate it.

    First…goodness. The view you have presented above is a predominantly protestant view of humanity (i.e. utterly depraved) and is not shared across the board by Christians. There are other branches of Christianity that, while affirming the general notion that we are sinful and thus need a savior, we are generally good. God calls us such in the Garden. Yes, we were affected by the Fall – what is up for debate is whether the Fall turned us from good to not good. However, perhaps more importantly we should focus on what happens at salvation. I am inclined to believe that salvation is the process of undoing whatever it is that the Fall did. So even if we decide that the Fall did corrupt our very nature from being good to not good, salvation essentially reverses that reality. Not by mans power, but by God through the Spirit (we can agree on that, more on that in a bit).

    Second, is God a micro-manager? Potter…yes. Um, we need to be careful with Biblical analogies. We Christians have the tendency to take them too far and to use the analogy for the purpose other than what it was intended to be used for. There are many examples of this, but lets stick with the Potter. The main point behind this analogy is that it is God who forms us and chooses who we are, our gifts, etc. I have no argument there. But when this analogy is taken to mean that God controls us (perhaps this word needs defining), the analogy is no longer being used the way it was intended to be used.

    As far as God’s control, he is in control of everything. This is different, however, than controlling (i.e. causing) everything. At the end of the day, God wins, we know that – he is in control. But in the meantime, God allows things to happen that he neither wills nor desires. Satan has power not because God is not, ultimately, in control, but because God has allowed him to.

    Now, the other side of this is that God has given humans free will. This is, among other things, one of the things that set us apart from all creation. We are the culmination of God’s creative efforts and he calls us “very good” in the Garden. If we can agree that the process of salvation is one of reversing the effects of the garden, we can then conclude that part of this is restoring to us our freedom to choose. Of course, for the Christian, we are most free when our choices are made through the influence of the Spirit, but God has never intended to push us out of the way. Quite the contrary. The Biblical narrative is chock full of examples of just how much God wants to partner with us, not through coercion, but through our willing participation. If God simply wanted control, it wouldn’t make much sense to create free will in the first place.

    So, yes, we are slaves to God in a sense (remember not to take these analogies too far), but the way Paul uses this analogy is to indicate who/what we submit out lives to, not who/what controls us unwillingly. Submission is our willful act of coming under the Lordship of Christ, not so he can finally get us out of the way, but so that he can redeem us.

    Perhaps where we may have had a misunderstanding is while you seem to assume my article indicates that people should take control of their lives through their sinful nature, I assume that peoples natures have already been redeemed, is no longer sinful, and now God has some work for them to do – redemption.

    Now, I’m not saying that we accomplish salvation by anything we do in our own power. You’re right, God does that. He always has. But, if you think salvation is limited to the saving of souls, as important as that is, you are wrong. Heaven and earth are being (and will be) renewed all at once. Jesus is making all things new. And our role as his followers is to be active participants. Not, again, as robots, but as friends, co-workers, etc. Not out of our own power (as sinful people), but out of the Spirit’s (as redeemed people).

    Finally, in talking about all of this, let me encourage you to take the Bible as a whole. Consider its whole witness to a subject before making a decision. We Christians, and I am as guilty of this as anyone else, sometimes use the Bible to back up our ideas pulling verses out of context to prove a point. It is a good thing that we want our ideas and thoughts to be Biblical, don’t get me wrong, but there is an appropriate way to do this and there is an innappropriate way. Some of the verses you have provided paint a singular picture where God wants control, but there are other verses sparsed throughout the Bible that provide the other side and our task is to rest with all of it together as a singular whole.

    Thanks very much for the conversation! If your interested in doing some reading on some of the subjects we’ve touched on here I’d highly encourage N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope. He doesn’t deal with whether God is a micro-manager directly, but he does lay a great foundation for how we should understand salvation and our role in God’s redemptive purposes.

    Blessings!

  18. Jesse,

    I LOVE THIS! Great, powerful, refreshing stuff. What it makes me think of is a conversation with a friend who was in a hard place. She wished and I think even prayed that God would take away her free will, just for a little while, and “make” her do whatever was right, because the clamor of it all left her unsure which way to proceed. He didn’t turn her into, as you termed it so cleverly, a “shotgun puppet”…which seemed good and right to me, though it was hard for her.

    This morning I am lacking the oomph to really go into detail, but I wonder if the answer to some of the objections is a difference between salvation and sanctification. They are both so important.

    Stopping there because adding more words will muck it up, methinks.

  19. Karen – Thanks so much for your comments. Your example of your friend is great! I’ve prayed that same prayer so many times…

    I’d love to hear some more of your thoughts on this as it relates to salvation vs. sancitification. You might be onto something there.

  20. Definitely what I needed to hear tonight. It really makes things clearer on why I am here and understanding the direction I need to take in some of my current struggles.

    Thanks and bless you!

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