I’ve long held the view that God doesn’t always get what God wants/wills/desires.Â It seems fundamentally basic to me.
Because, there is more than one way to be omnipotent.
By way of analogy, take my non-omnipotence… my mere potency.Â I possess the ‘ability’, or ‘power’ or ‘potency’ to do this or that thing.Â I am, within the laws of physics, I suppose, free to do what I like.Â In parenting Thomas, I have the power to be harsh or lax, smothering or distant, coercive or cold, forceful or far-off (or hopefully somewhere in-between).
If we take God’s existence (or ‘super-Existence’ or some word we don’t have, etc.) as a given, the possible extremes for God’s mode of interaction with the world are a kind of indifferent and distant deism (like a cold, careless father), or a manipulative, coercive dictator (like a harsh, smothering mother).
The biblical story develops.Â Sometimes God seems to be distant, and sometimes God seems in intervene in ways that are quite sudden and forceful.Â But as time and the story unfolds, the picture of God develops.Â And this development is (as we’d expect – and like unto the development of, for example, science) characterised by both continuity and discontinuity.Â But at any rate, God is never perfectly known – not yet anyway (1 Cor. 13:9).
But what does happen is that the New Testament authors are convinced that in Jesus of Nazareth, they have seen God in a way that is truly an ‘unveiling’.Â The author of Hebrews contrasts the former God-speech from prophets and such like (Hebrews 1:1-2), with the recent unveiling of the ‘express image’ of God’s person (v3).Â The book of Revelation could be called literally ‘the unveiling/uncovering of Jesus Christ’.
One of the most striking, unintuitive and ‘you’d-have-never-guessed-God-would-be-like-this’ aspects of the revelation of God in Jesus is that God’s omnipotence is the kind of omnipotence that is best pictured by a bloodied animal.Â A lamb. On a throne.
This God is neither distant, nor a dictator.Â This God suffers with us, and conquers the sin and evil that has literally ruined the world.Â This God’s omnipotence is best described as lamb power.