God as Game Master
One of the hardest questions for Christians to answer is: if God is in charge, why is there pain? Why is there death? Why isn’t there more joy?
It is hard to answer when others ask us.
It is also hard to answer when we ask it ourselves.
Sometimes, we are told: God is not in charge of the world. He is not the one doing these things to us.
But that is hard to reconcile this with: God is in control. God is omnipotent.
Then, the other day, I had an insight that finally made sense of it all to me.
What if God were a gamer…
Imagine God is running a roleplaying game. The moderator is in complete control. The entire world is in his head. He controls everything.
But a good game master allows his players to have free will. Their choices are one hundred percent in their own hands, and he never overrides them. He decides what happens to the world, whether the players’ actions succeed or fail, whether their bodies grow sick, etc. but not what they say or chose to do.
He could override them, but he does not.
Now imagine that such a game master had a game where he gave a player control of the world, the plants, the animals, the very laws of nature were under his dominion. And, within the game, the player, we’ll call him Adam, ceded that authority to someone else—an evil player.
The evil player than followed the rules of the game, took the dominion he had been given, and began making life miserable for the other players.
The game master is still in charge of everything. He still can change things or say they don’t work, but he is honoring his word—including honoring the decision of the player who was in charge to cede his authority to the evil player.
If someone appeals enough to the game master, he may intercede and help them, but otherwise, he operates by his rules.
In this situation, God, er, the game master, is in complete control, but he is not the one torturing the players. It is not by his choice or anything he does to the world that they suffer.
Not a perfect match, but a step and a glimpse
This scenario does not match real life in all particulars, but it suddenly gave me a clear analogy for how God could be all-in-all and yet, man has free will. And for how God could rule everything, and yet we are under the jurisdiction of the Prince of the Earth.
Rule-breakers and the Lamb
I suppose we could take it a step farther. Imagine that the evil player set up a system so that if anyone breaks a rule, he gained power—rule-breaking (we’ll call it sinning) ceded more authority to him. A player sins, they give him more authority over their life.
This sin builds up. It can only be paid off by suffering. But after a while, no one can suffer enough to make up for all the sins they commit, as they are tempted more and more and start forgetting the rules they should obey to escape this.
Innocent blood will do the job, too–killing an innocent creature, like a lamb; but that is awkward, and not so nice for the lamb.
So the game master finds a loophole in the rules. He puts a pure and innocent character in the game, who is supremely innocent. (This part is not quite as good because you would need to assume a perfectly innocent game master to be able to say that he stepped into the game himself, but we’ll have to just agree that part doesn’t match up.)
The evil player gets the other players to kill the innocent player.
…and suddenly there is an infinite supply of innocent blood, able to wash away any sin.
Only there is a catch. Any particular sin that the players do not ask to have washed away with the innocent blood, the evil player can still use the authority of those since to inflict trouble upon them.
And thus we have a situation where the game master (God) controls all. The evil player (the Prince of the Earth) has control over anything not turned over to the source of innocent blood (Christ) and yet players (us) still have free will to act and make choices.
Maybe not a perfect analogy, but…perhaps helpful to some.
I know it was helpful to me.