I hear at church, “God is in control. Do not fear.” Really, is he in control? Because what I see is a world out of control. John Calvin is going to roll over in his grave when I say this, but God is not in control. Because that God would have to be fine with evil to be in control of this mess.
Paul says that the creation and our very selves are subject to the corrupt world:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Rom 8:18–25 ESV)“[C]reation waits” to “be set free from … corruption.” Likewise, we are waiting to be adopted and reclaimed by God sometime in the future. God is not in control of this corrupt creation, but is waiting to make it whole again. It was once good and will be good again. We hope for what we cannot see—a time when God will permanently reclaim this world by sending back his son.
Evil happens because the world is corrupt, not because God allowed it. Yes, God did place the curse on the world—he is the one who “subjected [it] to futility.” But Adam and Eve made the choice to go against God, and we continue this pattern. Are we then the ultimate reason for the problems? Can we be agents for change?
So I have a problem with this falsely characterized God who is in control of everything. God has let the world go its way, but yet graciously chosen to intercede throughout its history. He brought salvation to the world by sending his son—the greatest intercession of all. When we are blessed, it is God interceding. When we are cursed, we are just witnessing the way the world is when God is not holding back the powers of evil.
With this view, prayer is suddenly taken to a whole new level. Because when we pray, we influence God to intercede—to bless us by holding back corruptive powers. God will take back this world, but until then we should be sure to characterize him correctly and pray to him as if he can act. Otherwise, we might think he is the one behind the evil. Surely he can use evil for good, but he is not reason it exists—we and the other rebellious creations are. But we can work with God to bring order to the chaos. We can bring healing to the corrupt creation and all of humanity.
What do you think? Is God in control of everything? How much control do we have?