The emotions are riding high in light of what has happened in Newtown, CT. We all have a lot of opinions about a lot of different things. It seems the only thing that we aren’t divided on is our devastation over the loss of innocent lives.
I’m not here to rant about gun control or mental health…although I do have strong opinions about those things. Among all of the things that people are debating right now, in light of the tragedy, this is the thing that has me the most riled up:
This is one of the most offensive things I have ever seen. And to be clear, I am a Christian.
The argument that the absence an official school prayer time would indirectly (or directly) correlate with a slaughter in an elementary school is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. And, again…I am a Christian.
One of the things I love to do when studying the Bible is to keep an on-going list of God’s attributes as I’m studying a passage. Doing this helps me understand God’s overall character. Understanding God’s character helps me identify when His character is being portrayed falsely. Here is a partial list of the attributes that I’ve listed in my Bible:
For the purposes of this post, I want to focus on “omnipresent”.
First, let’s define it:
- (of God) Present everywhere at the same time.
- Widely or constantly encountered; common or widespread: “the omnipresent threat of natural disasters”.
As it relates to God, it means this is the attribute of God by which He fills the universe in all its parts and is present everywhere at once. Not a part, but the whole of God is present in every place.
Now, let’s support it with Scripture:
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
(Psalm 139:8 ESV)
“Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD.
(Jeremiah 23:23-24 ESV)
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!
(1 Kings 8:27 ESV)
…that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,
(Acts 17:27 ESV)
He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.
(Ephesians 4:10 ESV)
This is a small list, but the conclusion is that, in the simplest terms, there is no place to go where God is not already there.
And, then there is the Christmas story…
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us).
(Matthew 1:23 ESV)
Christians believe that this is fulfillment of the prophesy laid out in Isaiah:
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
(Isaiah 7:14 ESV)
The point is this: If you believe God is omnipresent, then you believe God is everywhere. Not everywhere except public schools. He’s not the big bad wolf who is stopped by brick.
I realize that this opens up questions. Questions like, “if God is everywhere, why did this happen”. It’s another blog post (or several) all-together, but I feel like I need to at least address it. I only wish I had a compelling answer. The only thing I can say for sure is that in His mercy and grace and love, God gives us free will. We are not puppets in a grand performance. And, there is unspeakable evil in our broken world. Hence, our desperate need for a Savior. The hope that I personally have is summed up in Revelation 22:20 and is the prayer that I always pray when I am distraught:
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
(Revelation 22:20 ESV)
Back to the t-shirt above. When I see that, I automatically think that whoever believes that doesn’t know the true character of God. To say that God is not in schools is to believe that he is NOT omnipresent.
I’m not trying to be judgmental, although I realize I probably sound that way –and maybe I actually am. But, I’m really trying to point out that when people know you are a Christian, they are watching and listening to what you do and say. And, when you say that God is being controlled by humans, it diminishes your witness.
Finally, there are a lot of people who are sincerely asking the question that the t-shirt asks. Christian, is that the answer you really think that God would give to somebody who is hurting?