“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. And now, look, your house is abandoned and desolate. (NLT)
We often hear of God being all-powerful, of Jesus being supreme ruler of the world and so in control of this world. Quite true—but therein lies a problem. Many argue that if God were all-powerful he would wipe out each and every nasty that comes our way.
This is to misunderstand the nature of God’s power. It is to assume it is some brute power that enables him to do anything we can imagine. But God cannot make a square circle; God cannot cease to be God. Power seen in these absolute terms is nonsensical.
God exercises his power within the context of the freedom with which he endowed human beings. God does not force us to be good; does not wipe out all evil here and now; does not impose justice and peace on all irrespective of whether they seek it or not. God shows his power by withholding it and thus honouring our freedom.
This is seen clearly in the ministry of Jesus. His ability to do mighty works was hindered by human unbelief. His willingness to save was thwarted by those who reckoned they didn’t need it. His desire to wipe out sin didn’t come to fruition because others wanted to go on sinning. This brought him great sorrow and brought the human race great suffering.
But whatever we may feel about this, he is the only God on offer. A God who chooses not to be all-powerful and thus paradoxically showing his power: the power to love and work with stubbornly free human beings.