Wrestling with God, Theodicy, and Free Will

Lately I’ve been wrestling with God, Theodicy, and Free Will…but after much prayer and thought, I’ve come to a resolution that appeases me.

Theodicy is a struggle of putting two and two together; the components are if God is all loving/all knowing/all powerful, how come evil still happens in the world, would not such a God do away with such things? And if he doesn’t intercede, is he still all loving/all knowing/all powerful?
I struggled (and maybe I will struggle again) because I see pain quite often and sometimes even too much, the behavior of one human being against another or many just saddens me and drives me to lament over the atrocities that happen around this world of ours. While struggling, while doubting, while just feeling nothing…God showed up.

God didn’t break it down for me, but his presence and love that wrapped around me struck me as an “I know, I know” kind of feeling.

The thing is that I think God is all loving, all powerful, and all knowing, but the reason why he doesn’t step in when horrible things happen is because of free will. Free will gives us all sorts of freedoms, and essentially we’re able to do a lot of good…but we’re also capable of doing a lot of bad.

It is within this free will that we’re able to decide to follow God or not, whether we’re going to help others out who are in need or not, choice is ours and if we don’t make a choice in a matter that is also our choice (queue Freewill by Rush).

So instead of a intervening God (which would interfere with our freewill) God is present and with us while we go through life’s experiences, and I have faith that when we hurt and suffer he’s with us in our brokenness as well.
The thing is, we as human beings can intervene, we can make a difference in a world that is suffering, we can take care of those who are down and out, and anyone who is going through a personal hell on earth, we can and I truly believe that we must as well.

I believe in being a participant in kingdom of God work, doing what I can in the now and in the future to usher in perfect shalom. I have faith in God and what he’s doing and also the good things people are doing in his name. We are invited to be a part of the kingdom work, the making “on earth as it is in heaven” a reality, and not just a reality for a small group of individuals, but for all!

Recognizing that God will be in our midst in good times and bad times is comforting to me, it has helped me realize that God is God and shit will be shit, he’ll be in the midst of shitty times, he doesn’t go wandering off leaving us to pick up all the broken pieces but it is up to us to pick up all the pieces and give it to him, entrusting him with whatever the outcome may be.

~Nathanael~

The kingdom of Heaven is like…(a God moment at today’s Gay Pride Parade in Chicago)

*This took place near the end of the Gay Pride Parade in Chicago…*

He walked by with the intent to leave the parade because it just ended, but he stopped cold in his tracks when he saw our I’m Sorry t shirts.

(Andrew Marin and I!)
I could see in his eyes fear at possible rejection if our shirts meant something hurtful and hateful. I caught on to his fears early and engaged him in dialogue as to what we were saying we’re sorry about; sorry about how Christians might have directly or indirectly told him they’re not loved by God and there’s no place for the LGBT community in the church, and that in fact God loves them and we do too and there IS a place for you in the church – this is my response to what I’m sorry about

His fears subsided, his frown became a smile, “So you’re saying you are sorry for what Christians have said? That you truly love me?” By now his smile was a full blown grin and he (by now he revealed his name – Nathan) told my friends and I “you guys are REAL Christians! That is bombass!”
Nathan shared how his Christian parents threw him out when he came out to them, his hurt visibly noted as he through up a shrug and referenced John 3:16, I get that and I get the passage when it says “whosoever believes in Him shall not perish by have ever lasting life.”

I pulled Nathan into my circle of friends even closer and I asked him if I could pray for him, “I have a better idea” he said, “let’s pray for one another.” My friends and I proceeded to lift Nathan up in prayer; for a good day, for a good week and I closed by praying for reconciliation and restoration between him and his parents. We finished the prayer, talked a little more and gave hugs and then he was on his way with a smile on his face for getting to meet us.
This time, this moment, was definitely a God moment. He put us then and there to engage Nathan in conversation, to share what we sorry about and to lift him up in prayer. May God reconcile and restore the rift between him and his parents, and since reconciliation and restoration is kingdom stuff this left me smiling and crying a little, because in this God moment this is what the kingdom of God is like.

~Nathanael~