If God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, then he must directly control every single molecule in the universe, right? That means that when an earthquake destroys entire cities and kills hundreds, or when a student fails an Algebra test, God makes it happen. But that doesn’t sound like the God of love, grace, and mercy that we Christians know, does it?
Persons respond to this intellectual dilemma differently. Many become confused and just stop thinking about it. Some say everything that happens is part of God’s plan and any bad stuff will eventually bring about something good. This stance honors God’s sovereignty, but ignores God’s character. Others attribute all the good stuff to God and all the bad stuff to evil. This acknowledges the existence of evil, but assumes that evil has much more power than it really does; only God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. Others say evil is in control of this fallen world and Christ will return some day to kick him out and take over. This stance recognizes that God will do away with evil eventually, but ignores God’s loving activity right now.
A better approach is to look at it as not an intellectual question – “How can bad things happen if God is both good and omnipotent” – but as a spiritual question – “What is God like?” The answer is simple: God is love (1 John 4:8). And as a loving parent, God made rules to show us the best way to live. Bad things happen when we break those rules; not because God punishes us but because of the natural consequence of our actions.
God didn’t want robots or puppets to control everything they did. God created humankind so that we could wiggle, wag, be curious, explore, interact, make choices, love, hope… and, most importantly, please God. As for the rest of creation, well, when humankind fell into sin we messed up everything. Stuff, both good and bad, happens because of human choices.
God is sovereign because he is in relationship with all creation, including us. God’s rule and authority are rooted in ongoing love for creation, not simply in status as creator.
- Is this question of freedom something you’ve struggled with?
- Does your language accurately reflect your stance on this question (“meant to be”, “karma”, “in the cards”, “Lord willing”), or might you be promoting something you don’t believe with such language?
- How did you arrive at your stance on this question: careful study of scripture and theology, what someone else taught you, what seemed most logical?