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Untwisting the Bible, Part III: “Let Go and Let God”

by | Oct 10, 2023 | Opinion, Religion, Social-Issues, The Church, Theology | 0 comments

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Okay, so this one isn’t actually in the Bible. But since a disturbing number of professing believers think it is, we’ll cover it anyway. The well-worn mantra, “Let go and let God”—a phrase often parroted in church Sunday School classes, book clubs, and social media posts by people who presume it to be a golden nugget of biblical wisdom. Imagine these scenarios, someone’s stressed over work, tangled in relational conflicts, or generally overwhelmed by life’s complexities. What advice do they get? “Just let go and let God handle it,” often served with a warm, comforting smile. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Except it’s a notion not only absent from Scripture but also perilously misleading.

Sure, there are kernels of truth hidden in those five simple words. The idea of surrendering to God, of trusting Him with your life, is a thoroughly biblical concept. But the way this phrase gets tossed around tends to lean toward spiritual irresponsibility and laziness. It becomes a super spiritual-sounding excuse to back off from personal accountability, human interaction, and—gasp—even good theology.

This cliché, “Let go and let God” isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card for a passive Christian life. Ephesians 2:8-9 assures us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” But the very next verse, Ephesians 2:10, tells us, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” The key takeaway? Yes, we’re saved by grace alone, but that grace propels us into action.

Sadly, many professing Christians also treat this fake Bible verse as a way to wash their hands of any need for theological understanding. This is dangerous because, as Hosea 4:6 warns, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” The Bible repeatedly calls believers to grow in wisdom and understanding. Ignorance is never glorified or encouraged. And here’s the thing, good theology leads to good living. When we understand God’s character, it shapes how we live, how we relate to others, and how we approach life’s trials.

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But most dangerously is how it’s used to relieve people from accountability. The “Let go and let God” mantra is often deployed as a shield against spiritual correction, as if the notion of holding a fellow believer accountable for sinful behavior or false beliefs is itself unchristian and out of bounds. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Accountability is critical to spiritual growth. Proverbs 27:17 affirms, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” James 5:16 calls us to “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”

The most dangerous aspect of the “Let go and let God” philosophy, however, is its potency in disincentivizing Christians from holding each other accountable not just in matters of personal responsibility but even in the exercise of our public duties—anything from the voting booth or school board meetings to how we choose to raise our children. Armed with this mantra, many will shrug off the weight of both private and civic responsibilities, embracing a spiritual laissez-faire attitude that suggests it doesn’t really matter what decisions are made or who is in power, because God will sort it out. This creates an environment where people become complacent, believing that their actions, or inactions, bear no real temporal or eternal consequences.

Far from being inconsequential, these actions and decisions play a vital role in shaping not only individual lives but entire communities. To think God’s sovereignty negates human responsibility is a gross misunderstanding of the intricate interplay the Bible outlines between divine will and human action. Indeed, God’s sovereignty and human responsibility are not competing concepts but concurrent realities that coexist in divine mystery. As Philippians 2:12-13 instructs, we are to “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

Far from advocating a theology that calls us to “let go” in the way the cliché suggests, Scripture calls us into a life of engaged, active faith. Yes, we absolutely trust in God’s sovereignty and rest in His grace. But that trust and rest lead to a life marked by good works, spiritual growth, and mutual accountability. Don’t “let go” of those biblical truths.

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