Sovereignty through love

Sovereignty_loveWhat do you think of when we say that God is sovereign? And the age old question about how that plays out with our free will?

Well, God is sovereign, which means that He has free will. And if we allow God to have free will, then that means that He can do whatever He wants. 

To be sovereign means that you have supreme and ultimate power. And, in God’s supreme and ultimate power, He chose to give you free will–freedom of choice.

Freedom to choose what He would want for you, what would be in your best interests…

…or the freedom to choose very bad things that aren’t.

But does the fact that God is sovereign mean that He must have meticulous control over everything?

Or is He a sovereign of another kind?

It was Augustine who postulated that God either directly or indirectly exercises meticulous control over all things and that, ultimately, everything serves some mysterious higher purpose.

Later, Aquinas, Calvin and the Reformers followed suit. So now we have this paradigm about God’s sovereignty.

Actually, I think this is a rather dysfunctional view in light of the revealed nature of God. And all kinds of bad doctrines spring forth from this premise. More on that another time.

It’s my view that this paradigm has not only caused very serious damage by distorting the nature of God and our relationship with God, but has also needlessly turned many people away from God.

Because it doesn’t answer the problem of evil, no matter how you try to dress it up.

Again, remember that this meticulous controlling view of God’s sovereignty that we hold so dear, that is so deeply embedded in the concrete of our religious dogma, started with Augustine in the fifth century, not necessarily with the Bible.

And if we must defend this doctrine to the proverbial death, ultimately, we must make God the author of all sin and evil. Do you really think that this is a good theological view of God?


And please don’t dismiss what I’m saying by putting me in some camp–I’m not a Calvinist or Arminianist, or open theist…or any other “ist” for that matter.

Let’s just try to think this through instead of tucking it safely away in our “camps” drawer so we don’t have to deal with it anymore.

God is ultimately in control…but the question is, how does He control?

In other words, how do we not come up with some convoluted explanation for saying that God is love and that He is good, yet He allows such evil and suffering in the world? For we must do so when we say that He exercises meticulous control over all things.

It’s easier to see what I’m talking about by making the conceptual concrete.

Gregory Boyd does just this in his book, “God at War” by sharing a true story of a young Jewish girl, Zosia, who was detained with her mother in a Nazi death camp during World War II. Little Zosia had her eyes ripped out by her Nazi captors while her mother went mad as she watched in total helplessness. They did it just for fun, to see if her dark beautiful eyes would make good jewelry. (p.33)

So let me ask you, did what happened to beautiful little Zosia serve some “higher purpose” in God’s meticulously controlling sovereign plan?

Wouldn’t a better explanation be that all creatures, earthly or angelic, have free will, and that some exercise it with malicious intent? That some are absolutely evil, of their own accord?

In other words, why should this serve some higher purpose of God at all? Other than to say there is evil in the world working contrary to His will.

The fact is, God’s will is rarely done.

For instance, God’s revealed will is that all seven billion people on this planet would receive His forgiveness for their sins, that no one would be lost, that all would receive His love and live with Him forever (2 Pet.3:9).

Yet, sadly, tragically, most will choose not to.

And, yes, grace is the free gift of God. But we must be willing to receive His gift in order to benefit from it.

But more importantly, does exercising meticulous control over everything even show love? Or, to say it another way, if your lover meticulously controlled you, and decided your every movement and decision for you, would that feel like love to you?

And does having the power to do something mean that you must do it?

As Graham Cooke has often noted, “God allows in His love what He could easily prevent in His power.”

You see, the human reason that feeds from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil does not understand how to be in control without making demands, coercion, manipulation, intimidation, restraint or even brute force.

But God compels by love (2 Cor.5:14-15).

He is not the ultimate micro-manager, He’s the ultimate  lover.

He holds everything together by His love.

For God is love and He made you in His image–to choose to love. Because, as I’ve said before, only truly free people can truly love.

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 41 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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8 Responses to Sovereignty through love

  1. Yet another terrific post. Great analogy with the human lover, Mel. We are a sad and tragic bunch when we choose to turn our backs on Him. The evil we can do, yet there but for the grace of God go I.

  2. TK says:

    I have two thoughts through this post. The first is that God is love. I feel like people say that and mean that God is like love or that God loves more than anyone else. I’ve come to think that God literally is love. Love in our lives is the manifestation of God in this world. As humans, we seem to have a limited complicity at how much we can love. God has no limit because God is love and love is God.

    The other thought is one I often use to explain the world. I imagine our world to be like a giant computer that God created. Everything has been programmed to work in a specific way and everything serves a purpose. However, sometimes files become corrupted. Sometimes a virus attacks. Even then, God has built into the system a sort of anti-virus, so that we can save ourselves. Only in very extreme cases would he personally interview (by say, sending his son). It’s not a perfect explanation, but it makes sense to me.

    • Mel Wild says:

      I like your thinking here, TK. What you say about the world being a computer reminds me of the Matrix movie. As Morpheus said, it’s the world pulled over our eyes. Yes, this world has a virus and Jesus is the antibiotic! And Jesus in us is the antibiotic. Because, as you say, God is love, and love came to live in us. So, as Jesus is, we are to be the cure in this world as we let Him live His life in us. Blessings.

      • TK says:

        Yes, I continue to agree. Here’s another analogy when it comes to God who is love. It’s like we are all jars into which God pours his love. We are then called to give this away in many forms, like friendship, mentor-ship, family relationships and relationships between life partners. The more we give away, the more God pours into us so that we are never empty or wanting. But, the person who refuses to give away their love receives no more. They are filled with the love of God, but they still have a desire for more. They might fill the void with money or things, never realizing that if they just gave of themselves, so much love would flow through them that they’d never be empty. Call that love, God or Jesus, it’s all the same. It’s a love that is meant to be given away so that it may grow.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I like your analogy. I do think we instinctively know God’s love and this is why it’s so poignant when we see it unconditionally given away through people, especially, giving one’s life for another. And you’re right, the more you give away, the more receive. But it starts with opening our heart to God. His love breaks through the fear that has bound up our heart. We can give love because we now know that He gave His love first (1 John 4:18-19).

  3. Pingback: If God is good why does He allow…? | In My Father's House

  4. Pingback: Love requires self-limitation | In My Father's House

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