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Our World’s Only Hope

Do you ever look at the world and wonder why God allows pain, injustice, and evil to continue? Why doesn’t he heal the cancer, stop the shootings, and calm the hurricanes before they unleash their fury?

Soren Kierkegaard once wrote, “Omnipotence which can lay its hand so heavily upon the world can also make its touch so light that the creature receives independence.”

Sometimes I wish God had a heavier hand. I want God to be more active in the world, as I understand it. I want him to stop Stephen Paddock before he begins his indiscriminate mass killings. I want him to calm the hurricanes before they make landfall in Texas, Louisiana, and Puerto Rico.

I also want God to be more active in my life. I want quick answers to my prayers. I want God to assuage my doubts and overcome my fears.

In Dostoevsky’s masterpiece, The Brothers Karamazov, the agnostic brother Ivan writes a poem called, “The Grand Inquisitor.” The Inquisitor is a church cardinal who accuses Jesus of forfeiting the three greatest powers at his disposal by turning down Satan’s three temptations. The poem recounts how Jesus could have used miracle, mystery and authority to increase his fame among the people. But by rejecting Satan’s offer, Jesus spurned the authority needed to compel people to follow him.

Ivan Karamazov calls this the miracle of restraint. Jesus restrained his power for purposes not aligned to his mission.

God’s omnipotence is best seen in his loving offer of independence. His “light touch” is his most powerful touch of love. As Philip Yancey writes, “Love has its own power, the only power ultimately capable of conquering the human heart” (The Jesus I Never Knew, 78).

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” Jesus cried. “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37). The disciples wanted Jesus to call down fire on unrepentant cities. But Jesus always had the miracle of restraint. He never twisted arms, and he never forced himself on those who were not willing.

Could God have stopped Stephen Paddock before the shooting began? Can God stop hurricanes in their tracks, dismiss cancer before detected, and overwhelm us with certainty? Yes. And one day all wrongs will be righted, and evil will be vanquished. Until then, we wait, not in passivity with gloomy faces of defeat, but in actions of love that conquer the human heart.

Choose love instead of hate, for goodness cannot be legislated and enforced at the point of a gun. Goodness never grows from imposition; it only grows through infusion of the love of Jesus Christ flowing in and through actions and truth (1 John 3:18). This is our world’s greatest and only hope.

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