If God could bet on the Super Bowl or the World Series, or maybe the spread on a world boxing title, would God gamble? This “gambling” question goes to the nature of God. Is God subject to risk and uncertainty? Does God choose to take risks?
I posit that God is a God who gambles. I believe he gambled on me. I think he gambled on you too.
Now, this proposition is difficult to defend because God is all knowing, and not subject to time and space. But this is the quandary for us humans: we just can’t grasp such a Being. Arguing on this point is frustrating eventually. God knows the outcome, and so what’s to discuss? Poor God. It must be like watching endless reruns of “I Love Lucy.”
On the other hand, I think the creation of the human race was an enormous gamble and the odds are not clearly in our favor. We are getting rapidly more powerful technologically, but remain fairly savage in our tendency toward war. Our emotional, religious and cultural progress lag far behind our bellicosity and violence. Korea, Iran, Israel, Pakistan are just the current thermonuclear hotspots.
God gambled in creating humans with free will. The risk is that we will choose domination and enslavement instead of justice, and equal dignity. The gamble implies the cards are not stacked. Free will is the wild card of human “destiny.”
God I think is betting that you and I will chose the truth, and live courageously by faith in the freedom that brings. Freedom brings the opportunity to fail, to regroup, and to choose again. Freedom is full of grace and truth, not truth alone. I may have blown it yesterday, just as the world community has blown it with multiple wars in the last century, but God is betting on the final score. It is not too late for the world, or even California.
“And the truth shall set you free!” — It’s not the truth that we fear, it is the “freedom” that truth brings. I wonder at times if many of my fears are grounded in a resistance to living in full freedom from formulas, rules, and expectations. With freedom comes the grace to make big mistakes, to offend people, to live in uncertainty, to try totally new approaches, and engage with completely different people. With freedom comes the challenge to love full force, with vulnerabilities exposed. Does that scare you? Sometimes it scares me. Like right now.
The last century was dominated by wars and the threats of war even as we advanced in so many ways in our capacity for happiness and prosperity. The human race has written a truly novel narrative of itself in the last 200 years. Events now seem to point a climax in the human narrative. Chemical, biological and nuclear weapons abound and are spreading beyond the control of nations, into the hands of zealous jihadists. We are at the edge of permanent destruction to the environment. We should not be too confident of our survival as a species. The history of the planet indicates God is perfectly willing to start over again. After all, freedom of choice, if it is real, means we pay the piper.
“At last the time has come!” he announced, “The Kingdom of God is near! Turn from your sins and believe this Good News!” [Mark 1:15]. It is now over 2000 years ago that Jesus said “the time has come.” Have we entered into the “Kingdom?” Some have, and but many have not, and will not. Few in a modern culture understand these quaint terms of “sin” and “Kingdom.” Organized religion has done little to translate the idioms and syntax of the King James Bible to a desperate generation.
That is the gamble. We are all given access to the truth, but may choose not to accept its power. On the one hand the losses are total and final. On the other hand, the “winnings” are eternal life in loving communion with our Creator, and with one another, even now.
“At last the time has come!” he announced, “The Kingdom of God is near! Turn from your sins and believe this Good News!” He might as well have said: “Ladies and Gentlemen, place your bets,” or more personally, “Frank, John, Mary, and Jane, I’m betting on you.”
(c) FXP 2013