“And without faith it is impossible to please Him. For he that comes to God must believe that He is, and He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
Russel Crow as Robin Hood, bowed before his king Richard the Lionheart is asked his opinion of the Crusades launched against the Muslim world which he and his friends have joined in fighting. He remains silent though commended for his bravery in battle. Remembering the day he saw the look on a captive woman’s face awaiting execution, he says what stripped him of unholy conviction: “It was not anger or fear. It was pity.”
Samuel Rutherford, saintly author of Lex Rex did not live to see the result of his Biblical insistence that it is not kings who ultimately rule the world, but God’s law. His world called all to a Rex Lex; the King is law. Defiance was death. But even David fell when he took another man’s wife arranging her husband’s death in the war against a city. David was indeed the King. But the thing that David did displeased the Lord. (2 Samuel 11-12)
One core thing I have learned about the Lord is how little He is like some who want to represent Him. He is indeed Ruler of all. He has power beyond imagination to carry out what He tells us is good and great. His laws are descriptions of reality from an infinite perspective. He is truly Judge all things. But we are not called to copy this to reach His world. Yet such a driven vision is close to the heart of all systems and structures in which control and power are the dominant focus. It is why so many sin in God’s name. It was not just true for England’s Lionheart king. It marks the East’s eschatology where karma is the law of the Universe. It is Islam’s central theme with its kismet under the all-seeing eye of Allah. It is also the underlying assumption of every secular or spiritual, political or geopolitical movement that seeks to impress its own controlling tenants on the planet.
Religion loves its rules. It courts total control, for to its eyes this is what it means to save the world. It promotes power, for under its rule only the strongest survive. Too often the Church has confused this for faith, adopting such underlying assumptions and baptizing them as its own. Charity requires us to admit that in any serious look at the greatness of God, His attributes of infinity and eternity might lead us to think that to be like Him, we too should strive for dominance. Tyrants and terrorists alike have claimed to live in such a revelation, tempering their own force-driven ambitions only by acknowledging His sovereignty over all things, and their own Divine destiny to carry out His intention as chosen vessels. Will we not be like Him to live such a life? Can such acts save a world?
Sadly, no. The consequence has almost always been chaos and calamity. Every intention to bring ultimate control to a situation gives us not the serenity of a perfect and unified world of peace, but devastation and destruction. If we seek to live as if everything is and ought to be under absolute dominion, when our picture of both God and man must be fixed forever for our security, we will awake to find such an order a dangerous fantasy.
Scripture, history and just plain personal everyday experience testify otherwise. God did not make a world like that, because He Himself is not like that. This Sovereign God with infinite power, wisdom and love beyond all measure gave us instead a world where for us things can go wrong. Such is the reality of the lot and the record of both seeker and saint.
Why did He make it like that? If, as Scripture states, creation shows His own nature, He gave us a world with not only predictable rules that demonstrate consequence but also inbuilt potentials to mirror His personal investment in us. He Himself is not prisoner of His infinite ability. He has power over His own power. The God of all possible worlds did not visit as an immortal spirit, but as a helpless baby in an enemy-surrounded manger.
All the great joys of life are linked to such elements of chance, of alternatives not finally controlled, of possibility. Without it, safety and security may become boredom and apathy and any adventure is impossible. Our finances, family and future plans all involve an element of risk, of uncertainty, of choices to be made and circumstances to be faced. We are created with personal elements of both decision and determination in a fractal and quantum world that may lead either to greatness and glory or failure and poverty.
Robin had a revelation. We need one today when so many ugly things are done in God’s name and so many suffer from a misplaced and malignant desire to be like Him. He is not fallen like the Devil. We cannot be a holy people by insisting on our own power and control over His sad, hurt and fallen world. In the midst of chaos and uncertainty the One Who loves us beyond measure and died for our deliverance from evil still owns Lex Rex.
*Partial excerpts from Winkie Pratney's The Nature and Character of God II (release date 2012).