"No-one notices!" he said, finally, so in desperation I lost all attempt at sophisticated explination and Sunday School-like said, "God notices!" He suggested that God would hardly mind that I'd not swiped the STIB card for a tram journey of a few stops! "God's perfectly just," I said. "But he takes risks," came the reply. [Ah, now here we have a God made in our image, as did the Greeks and Romans more obviously before us.] "No, God does not take risks." "But yes," he rejoined, "he took a great risk in dying for us! He tried it and perhaps it would work..." While delighting in our non-Christian friend's understanding that Jesus was God and that his death was on our behalf, I had to disagree. Because what he said is far from what God has revealed in the Bible, and an image of God which is far from who he is.
Implicationally, if God was taking a risk in giving Jesus on our behalf, then I have no security in salvation or in life. If God took a risk, God is not sovereign and there is no security in anything, no sure salvation to be finally completed at Christ's return, no sure return of Christ, no surety of sanctification that God will triumph over my sinfulness to make me like Christ, no certainty that the church will be presented pure and spotless to Christ, no reason to think that God will manage through his weak, sinful church to gather from every people, tribe and language, redeemed people to himself.
So I pointed out that Peter when addressing his fellow Jews says that they killed the Messiah according to God's exact plan, and that Jesus when predicting his death didn't just say, "I will die and then I hope that maybe it'll work out and that I'll come back to life." No, he said, "I will die and in 3 days I will rise again." It was at great cost that Jesus died, but not at great risk. God was in control: just as he's in control of all things.
My friend repeated, "He's in control of all things?!" "Yes," I replied. I wondered whether next would come a question about the tsunami, or the bombings in London, or the recent stabbing to death of a 17 year old in a Brussels station, for his mobile phone. My friend said, "So God's in control of STIB?!?" I confess I hesitated a minisecond - "Oui!"
It's something we shy away from - God in control of a bus, a late tram, a smooth metro system, a double decker train - but it's true and it's that on which our faith rests.
Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth... [Ps 135.6]
Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
Why should the nations say, "Where is their God?"
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. [Ps 115.1-3]
Remember this and stand firm,
recall it to mind, you transgressors,
remember the former things of old;
for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, 'My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose',... [Isa 46.8-10]