There is a common belief in the church today that I believe is heritical. It is the widely preached, and widely accepted, belief that "God is in control." Now before I set about dismantelling this statement and showing its error, I must define exactly what I am talking about.
God is sovereign, and indeed - as Creator - has control to create or destroy. He is the ultimate power in the Universe. This infinite power gives Him the ability to control everything He so desires - but it does not mean that He does. God's sovereignty means that His rightful place is King and Lord of all, the Most High.
But consider this: Is a king always obeyed by those in his kingdom? Does the fact that he is the king enable him to fully control the actions, even the very thoughts, of those in his kingdom? Of course not! People have every choice to disobey the king, to think poorly of him, or to go about the kingdom committing crimes of every sort.
I believe it is the same way with God and people. In His love, He has given us the ultimate freedom - the freedom of choice, even the freedom to reject Him. Without this freedom, I do not believe we could ever truely love God - for true love can only be given freely, uncoerced. It is our inherent freedom that it seems God respects and upholds - and I believe He never breaks it.
So much does require our freedom, that He will let us reject and disobey Him. He lets us grieve Him - and surely we do. He lets us disobey his command to love others. The free will He has given us can even be used to hurt others, to bomb innocent blood, or to pilot a plane into the side of a building. Yes, I think God knew all about what people would do with that freedom - but so much did He value real love, that He was prepared to suffer the cost - the cost of our rebellion.
Does God control the events in the world? Did God orchestrate the Oklahoma bombing, or the attacks of September 11? Of course not! It would be absurd to think God would do such things! Would He cause a drunk driver to swerve and kill a young child in a car travelling the other way? Such thinking is abhorrent! God does not want such things to happen, and indeed probably tries to stop such things.
The crux is this; God does not allow murders to rampage through schools, He simply gave them freedom to choose - even to choose to not let Him intervene. The responsibility of sin sadly lies with people, not with God.
This is all quite frightening, of course. Aren't we told that God works everything together for good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose? (Rom 8:28) Surely God wonderously makes everything happen only be "good" for Christians? In my opinion, this is one of the most mis-understood verses of the Bible. Again in my opinion, I believe the correct connotation of the original Greek is given in the Good News Bible, "We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose."
There are substantial differences here. God is not pulling strings - it is simply a reassurance that in all things - no matter what the situation - God will always act for the good of those who love Him. That word for "good", means eternal good - not just 'good.'
Now do not misunderstand, however, that through God's redeeming Grace, he can take the 'bad' we have experienced and redeem it, for the days are indeed evil (Eph 5:16). This is the wonderful power of God, to take what sin has done (not sin itself), sanctify it and allow it to be used for good.
Indeed, what a marvellous God we serve, who can work such wonder! The miracle of a redeemed life is surely more incredible than healing. Indeed, power to redeem the choices we make with our freedom is a far greater power than merely controlling what we choose. God is Sovereign, and all-powerful, but He has let us control our own lives. This is why we must choose well, for the evidence of humankind's poor use of freedom is surely destroying the people who live here.