PICTURE GOD as he:
- sits on a cloud
- watches a shooter kill kindergarten children
- does nothing about it.
Who wants to worship a god like that?
Heck, who wants to give him a capital G?
Anyone in heaven or on earth who has the power to stop the shooter but does nothing—that entity is as evil or as deranged as the shooter.
So it surely seems.
Is god out of his mind? Out of goodness? Out of power?
Maybe he’s taking a pee.
That’s what the prophet Elijah said of Baal, the god of Queen Jezebel. Baal didn’t bother to unleash his alleged power to send fire from the sky when Jezebel’s prophets prayed for it.
“I’m sure Baal is a god!” Elijah taunted. “Perhaps he has too much to think about. Or maybe he has gone to the toilet” (1 Kings 18:27, NIRV).
If the Bible dumps that kind of criticism on do-nothing gods, why should our god be immune when he does nothing?
Christians, this is our Achilles Heel—a god who looks very much like a heel.
This is our most damning weakness, provoking our toughest question.
If god is good and all-powerful, why doesn’t he put his money where our mouth is?
It defies logic to insist he is either good or all-powerful.
Maybe it’s time for us to admit that there is no logic to our faith in tragic times.
Faith in a good and powerful God makes logical sense only in good times, if then.
In times of horror, we retreat to clichés.
“God’s ways are higher than our ways.”
What else is there to say?
We don’t know why a good God doesn’t step into human history and stop bullets.
If we’re made in his image, he should, because we would. We’ve been known to fall on grenades.
But he doesn’t.
Here’s the simple fact. We Christians give God the benefit of the doubt—sometimes only after calming down and apologizing for telling him what he can do with his capital G.
In our saner moments, we figure that anyone who could create such a wonderful universe so exquisitely designed—from microscopic particles to telescopic galaxies—must have a plan.
There’s a story in the Bible that suggests he does. It’s about a man born blind. Jesus’ disciples asked why the man was born that way.
“This man was born blind so that God’s power could be shown in him,” Jesus said. Then Jesus healed the man and said, “I am the light of the world” (John 9:3 NCV).
Should we start trying to figure out God’s plan, looking on the bright side of homicide?
I don’t know about that. It doesn’t feel right to tell the parent of a dead child that God is going to work this all out.
Maybe a better approach would be to consider the hypocrisy of criticizing God.
Much of the suffering around us is of our own doing—many cures lie within our reach.
We build cities on flood plains, fault lines, and tornado alleys—then we shake our fists at God when we discover the buildings can’t survive floods, quakes, or tornadoes.
We grow crops with pesticides, sell them with preservatives, and then moan about acid reflux and diseases up the wazoo.
We sell guns and ammo to just about anyone with a plastic card and we argue that if everyone had guns they could defend themselves, as though
- a kindergartener could pull a trigger
- and the right to bear arms is the Second Commandment instead of the Second Amendment, which was written by men wearing wigs 100 years before Wyatt Earp threw lead in the Gunfight at the OK Corral.
If by chance the freedom that God gives us to make choices includes the freedom to do stupid, hurtful, and horrifying things, maybe we should work on the flip side of freedom. Go for the smart, helpful, glorifying things.
So how about this: Since we can’t figure God out, why not take advantage of the God-given freedom we have to solve problems we accuse God of ignoring?