Did God Make Beer and Cigarettes?
Acts 2:23 This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
Is God in control of everything, or do I have free will? Does God pick me or do I pick him? Does it have to be one or the other?
Joe, one of the inmates I work with was recently involved in an altercation after which the other man required a scan of his head. This scan revealed a brain tumor and a week later, the man had surgery for this potentially life-threatening condition. Suddenly, Joe could see himself as an agent of God. It must have been God’s will that he beat this other man senseless. Joe had saved his life, right?
God’s sovereignty versus man’s free will is the kind of stuff of which headaches are made. It is agonizing to try and comprehend how God can be in control when we see the evil in this world. As a child, my older brother asked me if God made everything, to which I answered, Yes. He then asked, Did God make beer and cigarettes? As these were great evils at the time, I was stumped.
Since then, I have spent an inordinate amount of time pontificating this mystery. I have picked bitter fights over it. For better or worse, I do not spend a lot of time on it now. Understanding it may make me a theologian but it does not necessarily make me a disciple.
Still, there are times when the subject inserts itself into life. Someone once told my wife that my addiction was chosen for me by God. I found this a fantastic concept as it absolved me of responsibility. If God is in control, I am not accountable for my actions, right?
This of course, seems ludicrous, but it raises a serious question. Is God in control or do I make my own choices? I cannot abandon my responsibility, but I find no comfort in a God who has handed control over to man.
In today’s passage, Peter said that God planned for Jesus to be killed but then, in the same sentence, told the audience that they were responsible. How can this be? How can God choose something and hold man accountable for making a choice?
The story of Joseph and his brothers, who sold him in to slavery, reveals a similar concept. You (his brothers) meant evil against me, but God meant it for good (Genesis 50:20). Somehow, God is in control and man is allowed to make choices. I do not understand how this is possible, but the writers of the Bible seemed to have no difficulty with the concept.
God is somehow in back of it all. He made the world, including beer and cigarettes. He is sovereign over all but still allows us choice. This is a mind-bending mystery, but somehow, God is in control and man is allowed to make destructive decisions.
We are not responsible for comprehending all mysteries. Some theologians will explain how they have it figured out and insist that it must be one way or the other. They will claim that man has no free will or that God is not in control. These are just vain, human attempts to cram an infinite concept into our finite brains.
It is OK to accept that I do not understand this mystery as long as I understand that God is in control and I am responsible for my own choices. I can believe in a God who is sovereign without absolving myself of responsibility.
The Seeds of the Spirit is a daily blog based on a walk through the New Testament. Written from the perspective of my own addiction, it explores the common defects of our flesh nature and the solution, our spirit life. If you find it helpful, sign up for the blog as a daily email, tell your friends and like/share it on Facebook.