As a pastor, one of the questions I hear a lot is, “Why did God create us with the ability to rebel against him?” People want to know why we even have the option of sinning. I tell them that God’s reason for creating us is relationship; it’s love. And to be able to truly say yes to God, we must have the freedom to say no. I explain that if God just wanted perfect little creatures, he could have made a planet full of robots. He could have controlled them by programming them to say, “Boop, beep, boop, I love you God, beep, boop, beep.” But no, God wanted creatures who freely chose to love and live for him, which also meant they would have the option of not loving and living for him. God didn’t want robots.
We do. What I think we really want is a robot God. We want a God who can’t rebel against us. A God who is our perfect little creator, a God we can control. A God who has no option but to love us and live for us. A robot God.
We see this desire to control God, to expect him to serve me and do what he’s supposed to do for me, in all kinds of ways.
One very public and embarrassing example happened on November 28, 2010, when Steve Johnson, a wide received for the Buffalo Bills dropped a pass in the end zone, a pass that would have won the game for his team. Later that day, Johnson tweeted his feelings toward God, for the world to see, “I praise you 24/7!!! And this is how you do me!!! You expect me to learn from this!!! How??? I’ll never forget this!! Ever!!”
In that tweet, in addition to displaying a superior ability to binge on exclamation points, Johnson revealed that he thinks he has sovereignty over God. He had put “praising God 24/7” into the vending machine, and what was supposed to come out was God insuring that he caught the important pass. It’s like, if I hit the button for Dr. Pepper, Dr. Pepper is supposed to come out. If it doesn’t, I have a right to be angry, because when I give my dollar, I take on a position of authority over the vending machine. Steve Johnson was angry because God didn’t produce what he felt God was supposed to produce. And he felt like he had a right to be angry because, by giving his praise and obedience to God, he had a position of authority over him. Steve Johnson had a great plan for Steve Johnson’s life, and God wasn’t allowed to rebel against it.
When I first heard about Johnson’s tweet, I rolled my eyes. But you know what they say about rolling your eyes: When you roll your eyes, they end up looking back at you. (Okay, no one has ever said that about rolling your eyes. But I just did, so they’re gonna now.) I realized that I’m a whole lot like the Bills wide receiver. I gave up my career plans to start a church, so God in return should give my church growth. I’m raising my kids according to biblical principles, so God should make my kids turn out great. I give at least ten percent of my income back to God, so God should bless my finances. It all makes perfect sense. If God were a robot.
And really, I think that’s what we all want. A robot God.