The Will of God, part 2

“it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.”  Matthew 18:14

Is our will stronger than the will of God?  A friend and I were discussing this.  If our will could not, at times, feel as if though superseded God’s will, then would there be any such thing as free will?

God does not intend pain for us.  “The intentional will of God means the way in which God pours himself out in goodness, such as the true father longs to do for his son.”  In The Will of God, Weatherhead expounds on the intentional will of God, verses the circumstantial will.  “We simply must break with the idea that everything that happens is the will of God in the sense of being his intention.  It is within the will of God, if you must use the phrase, in circumstances we have hinted at already.  But we must come to terms with the idea that the intentional will of God can be defeated by the will of man for the time being. If this were not true, then man would have no real freedom at all.  All evil that is temporarily successful temporarily defeats God.”

Can God be, even temporarily, defeated?  I think the difficulty lies in semantics, in the struggle to define the experience, because for many, it is a given that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent — how do your thwart that kind of a presence?  Because we are in an imperfect realm, our lives are somewhat like a film strip, with frames pieced together into a seeming continuity that can best be described as our mind’s and our brain’s way of perceiving what is. From that perspective, the imperfect describes the imperfect pretty perfectly.

“Come with me to some slum home in the dark back streets of a huge city, where men’s lives and services are means to other men’s ends, where there is disease of body and distortion of mind, where evil festers and grows in sordid and terrible conditions, where men have not even the spirit to rebel, but accept their lot with a listless apathy that is more terrible than a revolution. And if you say concerning those stunted lives, ‘This is the will of God,’ I say to you that there is a greater blasphemy than the denial of the Holy Trinity.”

Weatherhead states a few pages later, “Evil is never creative of good, though the circumstances of evil have often been an occasion for the expression of good… If we say that the suffering caused by evil is essential because of the qualities evoked, then logically we must assume that God needs evil to produce good: that he could not produce such a thing as courage unless an evil like war demanded it…Will all the qualities which evil reveals atrophy into nothing because there is no evil to evoke them? I repeat that evil does not make good qualities.  It reveals them and gives them exercise, but there is always the possibility – and surely this is God’s intention – that those same qualities may be revealed and exercised and manifested as a response to goodness.”

What a beautiful book of my father’s… What clear writing and thoughtful communication! There’s no better time than the present to feel ourselves enveloped safely in the loving Will of God.

2 thoughts on “The Will of God, part 2”

  1. Hi Suzicue,

    Thanks for a good and thoughtful piece. I do not believe God ever wills evil upon us. Rather, God tolerates evil because if we humans were not allowed both to choose and to suffer evil, we would have no free will, we would not be human, and we would not be able to freely choose to enter into a loving relationship with God and with our fellow human beings. To be free to choose something, we must also be free not to choose it. And since God is everything good and true, and everything good and true comes from God, then to choose something other than God, we must be free to choose what is evil and false.

    The hard part about it is that when we do that, we hurt people–including innocent people. This is certainly not something God wills, as that beautiful quote from Matthew 18:14 says. And God is continually reaching out to human hearts to open their eyes and hearts to these evils, and do the work of overcoming them.

    I expressed these thoughts in fuller form in a blog post titled, “If God is Love, Why all the Pain and Suffering?

    Thanks again for a beautiful and thoughtful piece!

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