I read a Facebook status today that bothered me.
It was from a friend who pointed to Friday’s tragedy in Connecticut as a prime example of why he doesn’t believe in God. The skinny is that the dude just couldn’t believe a God would allow such an awful thing to happen to innocent children, therefore he must not exist.
Something about that burned me. At first I thought it was just the knee jerk fandom-esque reaction. Kind of like when someone says your favorite NBA team sucks and you instantly want to punch them in the face before even considering that your favorite team is the Raptors and he might have a solid point.
After a while I realized though, I wasn’t burned because I disagreed with him, I was burned because I kind of saw where he was coming from. I mean, where was God? Where was the divine intervention that could have saved 20 schoolchildren from being shot? What else on the agenda that was so freaking important that 10 minutes couldn’t be spent shutting that crap down?
See, told you. It burned me. And this is coming from a guy who chose CHOSE to attend a college where “Caddyshack” was banned based on his belief in a loving and all-powerful God. I could hardly blame my atheist friend for having similar thoughts.
So I had to at least try to figure it out, I had to ask the age-old “Why do bad things happen to good people” question. Now I’m not saying that I did figure it out, but I start down a line of thinking that started to make sense to me. Granted, it raised a lot of “what ifs,” but hey, it’s a start.
So what if God’s not as much of a hands-on participate in today’s world as he has been in the past?
Sure it’s pleasant to think life is a train ride along God’s predetermined tracks. That is until those tracks lead to a derailment. Then suddenly the guy who laid the tracks looks more like a evil villain, than a loving God.
For the record, I don’t think God works for Norfolk-Southern, nor do I think he is activity guiding the majority of our actions. Instead I think God has been forced to sit back at a distance ever since Eden fell. Prior to humans’ sin, God could walk with humans, as he did in the garden. Once we got dirty, however, he has to take a step back.
Why? I’m not sure. Maybe we’re so tainted in our current state we would explode “Raiders of The Lost Ark” style if in his presence. I mean, all Moses saw was God’s back and afterwards his face was so lit up, all the Israelites started freaking out and he had to start wearing a ski mask. And that’s Moses we’re talking about. The guy with the 10 commandments, not a guy like me.
So if God isn’t down here moving pieces around like it’s “Risk”, what exactly is he doing?
Perhaps he’s being a father and perhaps that’s why God is referred to so often in a father-like sense.
Think about it. A good dad gives guidance, imparts wisdom, and attempts train his children to make the right decisions in life. He then give his children the free will to do as they best see fit. Sometime it takes, sometimes it doesn’t, but that’s up to the kid to decide what he or she is or isn’t going to do. This is why all of us at one time or another have hurt someone. It’s the downside of free will, the opportunity to really screw stuff up.
Of course this puts a heck of a lot more responsibility on you and me. Now it’s up to us to decide not to run that red light or tell the cashier he dropped us a Jackson when he really only owed us a Lincoln. We’ve got to own that.
It’s also up to us to be proactive when it comes to doing good, especially if we are Christians because we carry the Holy Spirit around where ever we roll.
If you look throughout the Bible, very seldom will you find God reaching down from heaven with a giant hand to stop things. Most often you see him using people. Sure, he sent a flood, but he used Noah to provide folks with a boat. Yeah, he sent plagues to Egypt, but he sent Moses and Aaron with a warning before hand.
God gets even more hands off in the New Testament after Jesus dies and rises, likely because the Spirit was now present in Christians. The Apostles went to work, did miracles, spread the Gospel and set up systems for taking care of those who couldn’t take care of themselves.
And then of course once the perfect came, i.e. the Bible, proficiency, tongues, and special knowledge ended as God seemingly took another step back. It’s almost as if as time goes on, God gives us more and more free will and greater and greater responsibility.
So what then?
Even after a lot of thinking, I still don’t really have an answer as to why God lets bad things happen, but it just seems too easy to simply look at the tragic events of Friday and conclude that there is either no God or, at the very least, one that doesn’t care about us. That’s just too surface level. It’s too much passing of the buck.
Blaming God like that often just seems like a way of us passing our the responsibilities we have to ourselves and to each other. Yeah, our world’s a jacked up place and there are all kinds of nutballs out there who for whatever reason seem hell-bent making things worse. But the question we have to ask ourselves is: What am I doing to make it better?
God never promised us life was going to be easy. He’s never attempted to put us all in secure bubbles and force us to play Trivial Pursuit with George, while waiting for Jerry. We’ve never been his hampsters like that.
Instead, he’s put us out here, given us guidance and given us the free will to decide how to use that guidance. We can either make things better or we can really screw the pooch. Either way, that’s on us and God will always be good, no matter how bad we suck.