Sacrilegious thoughts about God…

“You know, we have an extraordinary God who is omnipotent. But this God extraordinarily, paradoxically, is also impotent.  When someone is hungry, we do not see samosas floating down from heaven. If that hungry person is to be fed, this omnipotent God waits on us to be God’s partners so that the miracle of feeding the hungry happens.”  Quote from Desmond Tutu, the anglican bishop in South Africa

I read this quote several days ago in my preparation for Lesotho. Wondering since the beginning of my learning in the church, I have often thought of the interesting conflict that we pose when we say that God is all-powerful or omnipotent, but we also acknowledge that terrible things are happening around the world, including people starving.  I think that Desmond Tutu does a fantastic job of pointing out this paradox, but I also think that he touches on something that we have gotten wrong in our theology so much of the time.  We think that a miracle is when God moves across the barrier of the natural world and begins working something that could only be attributed to him, but I wonder if the more miraculous happening is when God changes and moves in a selfish heart so that the person becomes more generous, more compassionate, and more hospitable.  I also wonder if he doesn’t do this for good reason.

If God sent down bread from heaven all the time, would he really cause or bring about any change.  Maybe at first… but I think that it would be more effective for him to inspire someone who is already here and has enough food, water, clothing, etc.  that they could give to another person regularly and provide some of the things that they struggle to provide for themselves.  This miraculous change of heart and attitude would be a long-lasting solution rather than a daily solution of sending bread literally from heaven into the laps of the starving, for then they would only expect that happening to continue without knowing or trying to know the person behind the food.  If only we could see that God chooses to be impotent, so that he can show off his omnipotence in the hearts and souls of the creatures that he created in his own image.  Had we not sinned and separated ourselves from him, we would have never been in this mess, but because we have learned from a very young age that we must be selfish, we struggle against God’s moving in us because it seems contradictory to what we have always thought.

God moves this way in us all the time.  He sees our constant need to fulfill ourselves and he calls us out of that, knowing that he created us for life that is so much more than what we think.  Now God works miracles in our minds and hearts so that we can move against our selfish nature and provide life to others when they are unable to do it themselves. Long-lasting and redemptive change comes into play when our changed hearts bring the kingdom of God into fruition here and now with the people around us and the people around the world.  God is not impotent, but he does wait on us to realize by the power of his Spirit that we can give up our lives and wants and provide for others in ways that we never thought possible or probable.  Then we can feed the hungry of the world, give water to the thirsty, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and visit the prisoner, being the hands and feet of God in a powerful way for all of the peolpe involved in my

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~ by randallkoehler on August 14, 2011.

One Response to “Sacrilegious thoughts about God…”

  1. I agree that as humans we generally look in the short term of things and pray for a miracle like the bread that you mentioned. I wonder though in this train of thought, why does God allow people to suffer for others to change? You have people who need food or they will perish, yet the only way for this to change is for people to change their hearts to love them and help. Is that fair to the sufferers? With our free will, what if we choose to ignore what we know and not help? It happens more than we realize.

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