The Common Good

Divine Magic Wands

An argument against God goes something like this: How can anyone believe in a creator who is indifferent to war? How can anyone accept a divine parent who ignores their children’s hunger and poverty? How can we embrace a God who is unmoved by the world’s pain?

Magician performing on dark background, Africa Studio / Shutterstock.com
Magician performing on dark background, Africa Studio / Shutterstock.com

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Why doesn’t this God of love do something?

Those are challenging questions, ones that many of us have considered at various points in our lives. We assume that our problems mean that God either doesn‘t exist or doesn‘t care about us.

What if our assumptions are all wrong? What if we're missing something important here?

Suppose we ask those questions of God and listen for an answer. Would the divine response be: 

“Yes, of course I care! You know me. How could you think otherwise? I am passionate about making things better. I‘m working on it every moment of every day. I’ve given you everything you need to address the problems — everything! And I’ve made you my partners. Together we are going to fix these things. I’ll do my part, and you need to do yours. Let’s start now!"

That might not be the answer we want. We might prefer that God take care of it all by God’s self — perhaps wave some divine magic wand and make it all go away. We created our problems, let Someone Else fix them. That way, we don’t have to change anything we’re doing.

Of course, once the wand is waved, we can go right back to making self-destructive choices, and all the problems would all return. Maybe the solution is for God to take away our ability to choose. But where would that leave us? We’d lose our ability to love, because love is a choice. We'd lose our ability to create, to nurture, to heal, to marvel. We’d lose that divine spirit inside of us, that creator’s spark. We’d be diminished in every way.

Who would want that?

Perhaps instead of diminishing us, God wants to elevate us. Do we hear that voice urging us to become divinely passionate about making peace, healing wounds, sharing all that we have with those who are in need, creating new ways to get along as equally beloved children?

Sure, it sounds daunting — change the world? Really? But it’s actually pretty straight-forward. Our problems are the results of our many individual and collective choices. We can make better choices, more compassionate choices, less selfish choices. And when we do, things start to change.

God is passionate about this. Are we?

We’re not talking only about big things. We’re talking about what seem like small choices — to smile kindly at a stranger, to give a few dollars to the person begging by the side of the road, to start to see our enemies as not all that different from us, to want to heal someone’s hurt rather than look away from it, to go out of our way to welcome someone who is treated as an outcast in our society. That’s how it starts, and it goes from there.

When do we start?

If there is war, it’s because we choose to declare it, not God. If there is poverty, it’s because we choose to tolerate it, not God. If there is pain, it’s because we choose to inflict it, not God. 

Shall we begin to choose more like God? Shall we begin to choose with God?

Joe Kay is a professional writer living in the Midwest.

Image: Magician performing on dark background, Africa Studio / Shutterstock.com

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