Is God Proactive or Reactive?
by Fred Pruitt
(First published November 2011 under a different title, edited and expanded in this version.)
We think of God as reactive to us. In other words, I act, and God responds, either positively or negatively, to what I do. Blessings and curses. It’s a hard habit to break. We think that way whether we are “religious” or not. It’s Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion – every action creates an opposite and equal reaction. It’s one of the physical laws of our world.
But God is not reactive to us. That is the silliest thing in the world. From eternity God has known everything that would ever be said, done, thought, etc., and worked it all together for good. In fact, it is He who has brought all this about, and not only is He not “reactive” to us, He is THE Proactive Agent of the entire universe.
All things are “worked after the counsel of His own will.” (Eph 1:11) That doesn’t sound like God is sitting up in heaven waiting for us to perform well so He can reward us, or for us to screw-up so he can give us the just consequences of our actions. It sounds like He’s much more involved than that, such as causing us to walk in the works He created specifically just for us to live out, even before there was an earth to live in.
One of God’s names in Hebrew means, “He Who Causes To Be.” When once we see that “need” is there in order to show the waiting supply; that lack, strain and confusion are the backdrop to plenty, strength and understanding quite beyond ourselves, we begin to see God not as the Great Reactor but instead the Great Proactor, He Who Causes To BE – ALL things, that He might manifest Himself in fullness as the All in all, of all. In the need, lack and weakness as well as in the supply, abundance and strength.
Instead of God waiting on us, it is we who “wait” on the Lord, and when His river starts to flow, we’re right in the middle of the stream, because it is a river of His instigation, the river of His works, which are made real in us by the continuous quickening of the Spirit. We continually receive from Him the Life needed in each and every situation each and every day. Before we need it, the answer is there. Always!
It was no accident that Abraham’s servant, who was sent to find a wife for Isaac among Abraham’s kinsmen, just “happened” to come to the very well in the whole desert where Rebecca had come to water. And yet it was in the most common of circumstances, was it not? A hot thirsty man, just in from the heat of the desert, meets a woman at a well and she helps him water his stock. And she just happened to be the very woman he was looking for. An everyday event, yet it came out of eternity.
Everything is the exactly the same as that story. We shouldn’t think it strange that these kinds of things are happening in our lives. Things that just scream “normal.” Things that appear maybe without fanfare, no glowing beings, no noticeable halos, with perhaps nothing particularly “godly” or “spiritual,” being the subject of the moment. We would be surprised to know, but we needn’t be, because it is true – each of these scenarios and life vignettes of moments in either the sameness of the mundane or the midst of a great adventure, are each of them divine and each leads divinely to the next and that next to the next next and so on and on and on without end, everyone of them individually and together all divine.
These stories of very common people in the Old Testament, are parables of our own lives. Through them we see God every moment in the commonplace. To the whose eyes see, there are nothing but miracles in every fiber, even though everything at the same time is commonplace, normal, having no visible evidence of the miraculous behind it. Yet everything, absolutelyeverything, is upheld and made real by that very invisible “miraculous” that is behind everything. The Proactive God, HE WHO CAUSES TO BE, which means ALL THINGS, is busy eternally working ALL THINGS after the counsel of His own will and to His own pleasure, which is nothing BUT an effusion of love through every place, name or thing throughout the whole universe.
The old covenant, the Law, is based on God reacting to us moment by moment.
The new covenant, the Body & Blood of Jesus and His resurrection, is based on we expressing God out of our lives moment by moment by the inner infilling of God so that we living are He living. We aren’t “reacting” to God, nor is God “reacting” to us. Instead it is a flow out of eternity, and the only “reaction” is the fabric of creation changing and expanding as God’s word is spoken through us His sons, living and fulfilling the divine will in the common everyday situations we all experience.
People are always asking me about miracles and such stuff. They want to see some “sign” in the visible world that is demonstrative of the power of God. God winks at that ignorance for a time, until such time the Holy Spirit enlightens our eyes are to the truth of the landscape about us. In this vision there are nothing but miracles. Every single thing is a miracle. Every single thing has love packed in it. Through every single thing the Father is saying, “I love you.”
Because the Father sees us and loves us, the Life of the Son is that which pours out of us. Because of the Son the Father sees us all in Him and therefore the Son’s Life, which is poured out for others, now becomes our Life also.
It is all from the flow of the inner river of the Living Water that comes out of the infinite God through the portals of our inner spirits, to spill out of us into the world. So that’s why the law cannot work – it can’t work on a river because a river flows. The law can try to dam the river, and that might work for a time, but sooner or later the dam will not be able to hold back the flow, because Life MUST burst through and the dam will go!
That flowing living water is the continuing onward and outward creative flow of Life that flows out endlessly, each branch of the river (each of us) making new rivers and branches out of us, and each of those continue to do the same. It is exactly the same when we see we are branches on the Vine which is Christ. Whether a river, a grapevine, or a tree planted by the water, it just grows and grows, giving and giving and giving, giving the water of life, providing shade, bearing fruit, new branches, new rivers, out into the eternal.
There have been the days of captivity:
“1 By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
2 We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
3 For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.
4 How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a strange land?
5 If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
6 If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.” (Ps 137:1-6).
But now are the days of rejoicing, and the fields white with harvest.
“1 When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.
2 Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.
3 The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.
4 Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south.
5 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. 6 He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Ps 126:1-6)