control vs. love

Last weekend my family and I found ourselves in a very unusual position…we actually didn’t have anything to do on a Saturday. So we made plans to to head to the movies. We decided it was high time we saw the remake of Aladdin and headed to the only theater that was still showing it. We quickly figured out why it was still playing as we were seeing the 4DX version of the movie. After the initial shock for our kiddos, they eventually realized how much fun it was going to be. It was quite magical seeing a cartoon movie from our youth being lived out on the big screen, but it was even better feeling it in a new way. I was a little anxious to see how Will Smith would step into Robin Williams infinitely cosmic sized shoes, but came away still very much in love with the whole story.

I have always loved the genie motif and limitations as well. phenomenal cosmic powers and an itty bitty living space. Not to mention the fact that he can’t bring anyone back from the dead or make anyone fall in love. That last one to me is always so profound. Because at the end of the day, love is something no one can control. In fact, love may actually be the opposite of control. And as people of faith, this is a very difficult thing to hear. I remember growing up and hearing songs about God being in control and God having the whole world in his hands, but then I began to look at all the brokenness around me and wonder where it all added up. I mean if God was in control, then what gives?!? And it just seems to be getting worse; mass shootings, environmental catastrophes, slave trafficking, global refugees, etc. If God is in control, does God really love us?

But I think that’s the question isn’t it. We are never told in scripture that God’s nature is control. Because that’s us. We like control. We like to dictate the actions of those around us. At the end of the day it goes all the way back to garden over and over again. We want to make the decisions and control the outcome. But what we are told of God in scripture is this, ““The person who doesn’t love does not know God, because God is love.” – 1 John‬ ‭4:8‬ And love does not seek to control. In fact, love makes space for the other to continually find their way home. The prodigal father doesn’t dictate the actions of his younger or older son, but simply goes to them, gives to them and invites them into the celebration again and again. This is love. It is not control but love. And maybe if we can get this, get on board with this, and live into this, perhaps the world may feel a little less out of control and feel like a place in need of more love.

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