Does God control everything that happens? In the past, I've been criticized for suggesting that this is not the case. If it was, God would be responsible for all the tragedies and evils that are evident in the world.

A God who controls everything would keep us from ever maturing into actualized human beings. At some point, parents must decide to limit control over their children. Giving children freedom is a risky, painful business because freedom can be abused. Yet responsible parents are willing to take the risk and endure the pain of watching their children make bad decisions. There will be times when the parents weep as they watch their children do things that they know will have disastrous consequences.

So it is with God, the parent of us all. When God placed Adam and Eve in Eden and relinquished control over their decision-making, God took an enormous risk. But that is what God had to do. Adam and Eve were not forced to obey God's will. Instead, their obedience would have to be freely chosen.

After giving Adam and Eve and all future generations this precious gift of freedom, God's greatest fears were realized. Not only did Adam and Eve blow it, but all who came after them have made matters worse with more of their own wrong and evil decisions. We read in the Bible that things got so bad that God "repented" of ever having created the human race in the first place.

All the sin and suffering that have marked human history since Eden are the result of God relinquishing control over what we do. People like you and me abuse our God-given freedom and thus increase the hurt and destruction that is in the world.

To all of this, most readers will say, "We agree!" Yet, when I dare to say that God is no longer in total control over this world, so many of my fellow Christians go ballistic. They refuse to stop and think. If they did, they would realize that God must be self-limited if we are to come of age and become fully human. Without God choosing to be limited, we could not love God, because love is something that must be freely chosen—nor could we freely choose to love each other. And love is what is ultimately important.

We are not puppets. We are creatures with free will. That fact alone necessitates a limited God. In simple and direct language, God chooses not to be omnipotent for the time being. Once we grasp this, we will not be so confused when someone we love gets cancer, nor ask why God allows such things to happen. Christians believe that we live in a fallen world—a world that is other than what God intended it to be. That helps us to understand that even natural tragedies such as Katrina or the Asian tsunami are the result of this fallenness.

Realizing that God is not in control of all that happens (because God chooses not to be) we recognize that the sufferings and catastrophes since Adam and Eve are because of the freely-willed decisions of those who disobey God. Then we will stop blaming God for the horrors of this world, knowing that the Bible says, "God is not the author of evil."

To say that God has chosen not to be omnipotent right now is not to say that this is the way it will always be. God is even now at work in this world extending love and justice through those who choose to "receive Him" as the Lord of their lives. Furthermore, history is moving toward a climax in which the will of Christ is going to be established. The Bible says that God placed Christ

Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.
And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church...
--Ephesians 1: 21–22 (KJV)
Jesus shall reign! But, right now, it is our responsibility to be persons through whom God's will can begin to be established here on earth as it is in heaven.

When tragedies and sufferings enter our lives, we should not be asking how a loving God could let them happen. We should be ready to recognize that such things are happening because God is loving and in that love God has given us freedom—with all of its potentialities for good and evil. We should be asking what we, as maturing children of God gifted with freedom, can do to bring good out of all that has gone wrong through the misuse of human freedom.

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