As our nation prepares to celebrate independence, I'd like to offer the following meditation on freedom, free will and God. It's important to note from the beginning that there is no one right response to these statements and that people with deep spirituality and faith respond to them differently and authentically.
Do you agree with the following statements? Which ones?
• Everything happens for a reason.
• Everything that happens, happens because God made it happen.
• God knows every little thing that we do and will do.
• God suffers from evil with us.
• God has a reason for everything that happens.
• Sometimes things just happen.
• We can do things that God does not want us to do.
• God can work in any situation.
• There's a difference between bad things that happen because humans do them and bad things that happen because nature does them.
• Sometimes we'll never know why something happened.
These are statements regarding God's ability to interact in the world. How much power do you believe God has to act in the world? Can God do anything? Is God's power forceful or coercive?
Aesop's fable of the sun and the wind offers a couple of different possibilities as to how God's power is at work in the world.
The wind and the sun were disputing over which of the two of them was stronger. Suddenly they saw a traveler coming down the road, and the sun said, "I see a way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that traveler to take off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger. You begin."
So the sun retired behind a cloud, and the wind began to blow as hard as it could upon the traveler. But the harder he blew the more closely the traveler wrapped his cloak round himself, until at last the wind had to give up in despair.
Then the sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the traveler, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on.
Which is closer to your understanding of God's power? The sun or the wind?
How does God's power shape the power we humans have?