Throughout the years I’ve heard people say that God “allows” bad things to happen to us—which is often the theological conclusion that people come to when they deal with the question of, “Why do bad things happen if God is all powerful?” This has always been a complicated question for Christians to work with, but I suggest that saying, “God allowed evil to happen,” is to come at the conversation from the wrong perspective. This statement may seem true because it’s reflecting on evil in the light of omnipotence, but to think that our situation is (or even ever was) a situation in which God exercised omnipotence at every turn is to live in a mythical version of Earth.
Adam and Eve were not made so that God could exercise omnipotence over them, they were created to be His image. It’s more like a verb—they are imagers. If we want to image God then we must be prone to action. And the action we are given is to go from His holy temple of Eden and fill the earth and subdue it with more imagers. We are to fill the entire planet with his presence as mirror images of who He is.
Never was a scenario created in which God said, “I will fill this planet with my divine omnipotence and nothing will ever happen outside of my desire.” No; rather, he put humans on the planet and gave them the inherent nature of His image so that they would fill the earth with His will. Omnipotence may be a characteristic of His being, but the full practice of it was not a part of the scenario of Earth. Rather, we were to live in His presence as co-laborers and share in His vision to establish Heaven on our planet by filling it with imagers who image Him in every part of the globe.
But if His imagers choose to succumb to evil (which is not a part of His image, but rather a product brought into the scenario from outside of God’s desire and will for humanity), then His imagers are allowed to live contrary to His image. He has put His authority into these humans—the only creatures on this planet who are able to image Him—the kings and queens and priests and prophets of the planet. And they have been given such authority that if they choose to exercise evil, they are allowed to do it.
We allow bad things to happen to people, not God—for we have been given the free will to choose a life contrary to our inherent nature as His image. And in a sense, God’s final judgment on us is because of the things we do and allow that are contrary to Him. He is not the guilty one who “allowed” something to happen—we are.
Sure, God has omnipotence and can do anything—but the complete and total exercising of this quality is not a part of how Earth works. Instead, he prefers to work alongside broken and messed up imagers who sometimes get it right and sometimes get it wrong. And the day will come where He will practice his omnipotence like He never has before in light of the situation as it is. And then following that, we return to the original schedule of Eden as Heaven comes to Earth and it becomes everything it was ever supposed to be.
Until then, we live in a space in which the end times are here and active, but have not yet arrived in fullness. And just as we could approach the presence of God in Eden and make requests; and just as those in the Old Testament could approach the presence of God in the tabernacle and the temple and make requests; so can we as Christians petition God, for He has made us sacred space through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. His presence is here now and we can ask that He exercise his omnipotence over our situations—and sometimes (more often than many Christians are even aware) He will do just that. All we need to do is ask as we continue to wait for the fullness to arrive.