Saturday, February 13, 2010

Is God in Control?

Christians are funny creatures. In our haste to be "good" Christians we race each other to heap as many superlatives on God as we can. That is to say, we rush to create God in an image that is perfect in our eyes. A famous Christian philospher once noted that given the choice between two attributes of God, whichever is better, that must be God.

Does God know everything? Is he omniscient? Well, knowing everything is better than not knowing everything. Therefore, he must know everything.

Is God all powerful? Is he omnipotent? Well, having all power is better then having most of the power. Therefore, he must be all powerful.

And so on and so forth. God being the best of everything we can think of. There's just one problem with this God. This is not a God of revelation. This is a God of definition.

Do we really think God is a person, an individual being? Does God have a personality? Does he have different moods? Does he make decisions from his heart or is he locked into some kind of cosmic perfection which dictates what is most Godly?

The God of the Bible is revealed as a being interacting with people he loves. Sometimes he feels joy as we are intimate with him and sometimes he feels angry because we lie to him and betray his heart. Why is it so important to us for God to be in control? He doesn't seem to feel like he is.

Control is an interesting thing. When we say that God is sovereign, what do we mean? We live in a mechanistic culture where we have learned to push a button and expect a result. We can cook our meals in 2 minutes in a microwave and we can obtain any kind of food just by heading down to the supermarket. No building a fire, harvesting our food or waiting for the seasons to change. Machines have produced a whole new level of control. Is this how we view God's sovereignty?

How would we think if we lived in a time before machines? What kind of "control" would we expect of a king in the 12th century? Yes, he has ultimate authority over his kingdom. Yes, he has an army with which he protects his people. Yes, a good king would desire to care for and to protect his people. But what would it mean in this culture to say, "The king is in control"?
Can the king produce food out of season? How much time would it take the king to respond to an invasion of his lands by an outside army? Would there be any pain and suffering during the time it took the king to assemble his army and ride to the defense of his people? Even if he quickly defeated the enemy and drove out the invading army would this mean that every citizen had been completey protected?

Control looks different without a mechanistic world view - doesn't it? Maybe, our lives are more like individual adventures in a hostile land. God's love for us and his "control" over our lives is more relational than mechanistic. We will engage the enemy. We will experience loss. Life often brings heart ache and pain. But our loving Father will always ride to our defense. He's just not pushing buttons, moment by moment controlling the comfort or safety of our life experience.

This idea of God requires a great deal more faith. Is God still in control after a loved one has died? Is God still in control as we fight against sickness and disease? Is God in control if He does not arrive on the scene as fast as we think he should?

Just some stuff we should talk about.


  1. I love these thoughts, because it's something that has been on my heart a lot lately.
    I would dare to say that many of us wish that God would control us. We don't know how to take ownership of the fact that God call's us royalty, that He's called us to represent His heart to the world. I heard a quote from a man recently that said, "Jesus isn't going to come down off His throne to do your job."
    I believe we live in a society where people choose not to grow up. The age of movies like "Failure to Launch" and "Step Brothers" about men and women who would rather remain kids in their parents house. Don't you think that's how we often operate towards our heavenly Father? We want to remain kids in our Father's house, when the we've been anointed to to preach the good news to poor people, to heal the hearbroken, to announce freedom to all captives, parden all prisoners and to announce the year of his grace...(Isaiah 61). The world is crying out for us to step up and be the kings and queens that God has called us to be.
    A friend of mine recently told me how she desires to make good choices. 'But if I don't, you have to make me.' She joked.
    Are we waiting for God to pull up in his highway patrol car and write us a big ticket? Someone to punish us so we can finally make good choices?
    We are responsible. We are responsible to be the sons and daughters of the most high God.
    I think that our heavenly Father desires to look each of us in the eyes and say, YOU have it in YOU to make good choices and to change the world around you.
    "If you love me, show it by doing what I've told you. I will talk to the Father, and he'll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can't take him in because it doesn't have eyes to see him, doesn't know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you."
    John 14:15-17

  2. I really appreciate your response to this as you represent a totally different perspective than mine, you being a young woman, from a different generation. Probably thinking of your own kids and your vision for them as a mom puts some of the this conversation into perspective. Most of the Christian theology I have been taught and seen practised assumes that God has a specific will for all of us that we must discover before we can do anything of use for eternity.

    There is so much that he has already taught us that we could experiment with. I am so encouraged to read your response and see that you immediately take the calling of being kings and queens as a blank check. We have more to say about the condition of the world we live in than we think.