Do you believe that God is in control of everything? Do you believe that sometimes there is an evil force that is battling God — especially times when there are bad times in our country? — from Megan, an ELCA member and student at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa.
Anne: Good question, Megan! You may have heard the argument that all the evil we encounter in the world is the result of human sin — people being free to make choices that hurt themselves, others and creation. This is a helpful way to think about it because it means God isn’t responsible for evil; we are. But there is so much evil in the world that is too big and powerful to be just the result of an individual’s bad choice. There is evil that is so big it seems to have a life of its own: institutionalized racism is an example. This systemic sin is bigger than any individual’s choices, but not bigger than God. Ultimately, there is no evil — not even death itself — that can separate us from the love of God. The struggle is real, and the evil is real, but God is working through us and through all creation in ways we can’t even imagine.
David: The short answer is that yes, I do believe that God is in control of everything. God is the creator of all things and rules over all things.
Evil is very real and very powerful in this world. But I do not find a lot of comfort or wisdom for myself in thinking about where that evil comes from. The more important question, the question that the gospel drives me to ask of myself, is “What am I going to going to do about it?” Rather than worrying about the source of evil in the world, I feel called by the gospel to be a part of comforting those who suffer because of the evil in the world.
Most importantly, the promise of the Christian faith is that evil will not be victorious in this world. The same God who defeated death on Easter morning will bring light into the darkness and conquer every evil.
Monica: Dear Megan, what a great question! Here are my latest ponderings on God, God’s power, and evil/devil. God, the creator of the universe, gave to humanity the great responsibility to care for all creation (including all humanity). I believe God has given to us the power to make choices in life. God has given us the gift of “Free Will.” Jesus was tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13; Mark 1:12-13) and so are we. Forces that desire to pull us away from God and neighbor, seek to test our faith and the truth of the gospel. No matter what happens in our lives or in the world we can pray as our Lord Jesus taught us: “Our Father, who art in heaven hallowed be thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.”
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