In this case, our inspiration comes from the badly-received movie “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice”. The movie was quite predictable and, to nobody’s surprise, was another hard-hitting, sink-smashing DC film with over half the movie dedicated to action scenes.
But, to my complete surprise, the movie later delved into philosophy. As the plot nears the climax, Lex Luthor (the villain) has captured Superman’s mother, Martha, and is threatening to kill her. If Superman wants to see his mother alive, Luthor says, he must “bring me the head of the Bat”. Luthor will only release Martha if Superman kills Batman. But, before Superman leaves, Luthor says something extremely profound.
The problem of you on top of everything else. You above all. Ah. ‘Cause that’s what God is. Horus. Apollo. Jehovah. Kal-El. Clark Joseph Kent. See, what we call God depends upon our tribe, Clark Jo, because God is tribal. God take sides. No man in the sky intervened when I was a boy to deliver me from Daddy’s fist and abominations. Mm-mm. I’ve figured it out way back, if God is all powerful, He cannot be all good. And if He’s all good then He cannot be all powerful. And neither can you be.Lex Luthor
The picture above is the real clincher. Luthor suddenly turns into a philosophy professor, speaking what he believes to be true. However, being a former missionary kid in Uganda, I found this to be more interesting than even my friends.
Not only does Luthor make a fantastically deep (although incorrect) statement, but he also speaks about the difference of God within tribes. Notice the very top of this conversation, where Luthor says, “The problem of you on top of everything else. You above all. Ah. ‘Cause that’s what God is. Horus. Apollo. Jehovah. Kal-El. Clark Joseph Kent. See, what we call God depends upon our tribe, Clark Jo, because God is tribal. God take sides.”
Let’s begin by dissecting his first statement. “The problem of you above everyone else.” Luthor is referencing Superman’s invulnerability, making him the most powerful being on the planet, capable of destroying nations with the mere snap of his fingers. Luthor feels that Superman is a threat to mankind and should be treated as such.
Yet when compared to God, Superman comes up far short. He has a weakness, but God is eternal, mighty, and completely all-powerful. God has the sovereign right to be above everyone, while Superman has undertaken that privilege without being asked.
“When compared to God, Superman comes up far short. He has a weakness, but God is eternal, mighty, and completely all-powerful.”Tweet
The next sentence: “You above all. Ah. ‘Cause that’s what God is.” Luthor clarifies that only God has the ability to be above everyone, thus insinuating that Superman is, in fact, a god. In a fictional sense, this is possible, since the DC world is full of Gods, including some from Greek and Norse mythology.
Yet, as he again compares Superman to God, Luthor forgets a crucial piece to the puzzle: God may be above everyone else, but He also stopped Himself into the state of a man, becoming the most disgusting of creatures so that those in Him might be cleansed.
“Horus. Apollo. Jehovah. Kal-El. Clark Joseph Kent.” Luthor continues his clarification and even mentions God within the mixture of foreign Gods, insinuating that there are more Gods than the Christians believe. An interesting polytheistic view, but one hardly backed by anything save for mythology and wishful thinking.
“See, what we call God depends upon our tribe, Clark Jo, because God is tribal.” I found this to be Luthor’s most interesting statement. Is God tribal? Does He truly take sides?
Luthor actually begins his statement correctly; God’s name changes based on our location. The English-speaking Christians would refer to him as just that- God. The Jews would call him “Jehovah” or “El-Elyon”. The Muslims call him “Allah”. Yet, Luthor then states that because God’s name changes by location, God too must change by location. While the logic of this statement isn’t entirely implausible, we know that the God of the Jews is the same God as our God, for He is eternal and unchanging. He is always God.
Finally, we skip to the very meat of this statement. “I’ve figured it out way back, if God is all powerful, He cannot be all good. And if He’s all good then He cannot be all powerful.” Before this, Luthor ties in the fact that he had been abused as a child by his father. Obviously, Luther had prayed for Jesus to protect him, but nothing happened.
Unfortunately, this statement is common among unbelievers. Because they, like we believers, experienced trauma and hardship their entire lives, they feel that God has unfairly slighted them. They somehow believe that if they pray for deliverance from their prayers, God will appear as a magical genie to save them from their problems and hardships.
To begin dissecting both Luthor’s statement and the question, “why do good things happen to bad people”, we need to start at the beginning. Literally. If you read the first 10 chapters of Genesis, you will find that Adam was the cause of sin in this world, not God. Because Adam belonged to God as His companion, and yet chose to turn against his Creator, God has no obligation to remove what Adam brought into this world. But, because He loves His children and wants what is best for them, He created a plan to save us. The plan centers around Jesus, God’s son.
The sin that Adam brought into this world has remained here ever since. Every sin committed today comes through our sinful nature, as passed down by Adam. Just as Adam sinned before us, we too sin. Some people, however, wrongly believe that they are sinless. They believe that they have never sinned a day in their life, proving not only their self-deceit but also their blindness towards their own actions. The Bible is clear on this matter: nobody is perfect, not even one.
The Bible is very clear on the punishment for any sin- death. This execution would have happened immediately, had Jesus not died for every humans’ sin, both past and present. So, the real question is not “why do bad things happen to good people”, but rather “why do good things happen to bad people?” Take a look at the news. Some of the richest people on Earth are also the worst, indulging in all kinds of sin. And yet God, in his eternal mercy, allows them to live. Why?
“The real question is not “Why do bad things happen to good people”, but rather “Why do good things happen to bad people?””Tweet
In allowing bad people to exist, God proves both his eternal mercy and goodness. Nowhere, in all of history, do we see an account of God wronging a human being. Instead, we see him blessing us, those who turned against him and rejected his gift. Truly, a good God.
Furthermore, in giving us the gift of Jesus, God allowed horrible things to happen to the only good man in existence. A good man took the worst possible punishment so that the worst people can trust in Him, and receive no punishment.
This action of sacrifice tells us that God is nothing less than good. A good God would not have sent His son in that manner, nor would He have condemned Jesus to die the most painful death in history.
So, now that we know God is good, we need to explore whether or not He is all-powerful. Let’s briefly return to our original question: “why do bad things happen to good people?” Well, since good people do not exist, let’s modify this yet again to, “why do bad things happen to all people?” Our answer is found within Romans 8:28.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (English Standard Version).
All things work out for good, whether in past, present, or future. The son with a past of abuse may turn to Christ for answers and become a Christian. The woman with a dead mother may meet her future husband at the funeral. Everything will work out according to God’s plan, whether we see it or not.
We have decided that God is good and has a good plan for everyone. The Bible is clear on this area. Furthermore, we find that God cannot be good without being all-powerful. What Luthor should have said is, “Because God is all good, He is all powerful”.
The Bible confirms this. One Bible verse in particular echoes the absolute majesty of God, telling of His great power.
“But God made the earth by his power, and he preserves it by his wisdom. With his own understanding, he stretched out the heavens. When he speaks in the thunder, the heavens roar with rain. He causes the clouds to rise over the earth. He sends the lightning with the rain and releases the wind from his storehouses.”Jeremiah 10:12-13
Truly, a powerful God. How else could He be good? Since He is all-powerful (the Bible is clear on this), He must be all good, else he be capable of mistakes in his plan, which Romans 8:28 proves to be incorrect. Praise God for His power, grace, and goodness! In His power, He created the ultimate, good plan in history, and He executed it to perfection. Amen, eh?
Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a phenomenal day.
Note: this post was re-written from my January post “God: All-Powerful or All-Good?”.
Image credit to the Elpaso Herald.
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