The song ‘Into My Arms’ by Nick Cave begins with the striking and firm declaration ‘I don’t believe in an interventionist God.’ This hymn, offers very much the opposite view. It depicts a God who constantly intervenes, and whose right hand performs a different task in each verse: writing, pointing, striking, lifting, healing, planting. It’s an inclusive song, though I remember as a left-handed child disliking it, because a right-handed God is like other people, but not like me. Surely an all-powerful God must be ambidextrous!
It’s reminiscent of the tasks given to the prophet Jeremiah: to pluck up and pull down, but also to build and to plant. This describes a God who strikes out at injustice while simultaneously lifting and healing those individuals who have been its victims. It challenges us to see the seeds of freedom, hope and love in the world, and by extension to tend and water them to grow fully, playing our own role in building the kingdom.
Is this an image of God we recognise and believe in, a busy God who is fully involved in the minutiae of life, who is always active rather than passive? Not all Christians have thought so. There’s an idea, associated with Deism, that God created the world then stood back, leaving us to our devices and the gift of free will. On the other hand some theologians might hold that everything is pre-ordained and planned by God. This debate leads us to the age-old question of why an active God allows suffering, to which there is no straight forward or easy answer. Which vision of God do you prefer? The God who gives us freedom, or the God who intervenes? Or a God who is somehow able to do both?
God who loves us, God who guides, God who shows us freedom, hope and love, we pray you will point out your way to us, so we can follow you and be your hands on the earth. Amen.