This past few weeks has seen plenty of evil. The Aurora shootings, a young man killed by a careless driver as he was walking to speak out for the unborn, a young wife and teacher killed by a drunken driver as she was preparing for a triathalon, these are just a few of the tragedies and evils that occurred over the course of last week. Most evil that is done doesn't make the news or the headlines. It is usually done quietly and in secret. It forces those of us who believe in God to ask some hard questions. Why would a good God allow evil in the midst of those who love Him? Why would He allow the pain and suffering of those who follow Him? The answer lies in the very nature of love.
In order for love to exist, there must be a choice – a choice to turn away, to refuse love, to say “no”. If there is no choice, no alternative, it isn’t love. This is why God placed, in the middle of
Paradise, a tree
that would bring death and destruction to the world if its fruit were
eaten. In order for Adam and Eve to be
able to choose to love Him, they also had to have the ability to choose NOT to
God wants, above anything else, our love. It is His very nature to love, and He desires to be loved by us. In fact, it would be fair to call Scripture a collection of God’s love letters to humanity. No matter how horribly people behave in scripture, no matter how often God’s chosen people turn away from Him, no matter how many times He must come to redeem us from ourselves – He always comes back for us. We are unfaithful, ungrateful, always chasing after everything except what He wants for us to have, and yet – in the end, He returns for us. That’s the message of the Bible.
He loves us, in fact, so much that He cannot help but eventually become one of us. He united His infinite and unlimited, entirely spiritual self to the flesh and bones of a girl in order to become like us. There are writings that say that this act of God’s, this act of reaching out to a sinful humanity, is the very act that so outraged Lucifer that he turned against God and brought many of the angels down with him. Lucifer couldn’t understand how God could love a fallen humanity so much that He would become like us. Lucifer couldn’t understand love.
So, God allows there to be free will among mankind. He allows us to choose to love Him, or to choose to reject Him. God will NEVER interfere with our free will. To do so would be to prevent us from being able to change our minds, even at the last second. He will allow us to choose evil even when He knows that the consequences will bring suffering and hardship and even heartbreak to so many. He does it because He loves each and every one of us with a passion that cannot be quenched.
He knows, too, that evil is weak. Evil cannot defeat God. It has limits to its power. It is finite, and it knows it. It is intelligent, but so narrow-minded in focus that its intelligence is limited as well. Like an idiot-savant, it can only do a few things – but what it does, it does very well. Evil tempts us with promises of fun to be had without consequences, of pleasures and power and riches gained. It promises that all we desire will be ours if we just give in to it. We know the evil lies to us, we know there are no choices made that don’t have consequences, we know that we are going to hurt someone with this choice – but our desire for what we want becomes greater than our love for others, and we give in. We lie to ourselves, we assure ourselves that what we are doing won’t really hurt anyone. But it does, it always does, and it usually hurts someone who is innocent.
However, God has made certain that the damage evil does can always be turned in humanity’s favor – if men choose God. If we repent of the evil we have done, He can bring good out of even our darkest nights. If we turn to Him, rather than turning from Him, He can use the rubble that evil has made of our lives to build a fortress taller and stronger and more beautiful than what was there before. He can use our pain, our grief, our story to heal the wounds of others like ourselves. Those who are innocent and wounded – He binds them up and helps them to reach out to other wounded innocents, to speak to their hearts and assure them of the hope that lies in God’s love. So long as men endure, evil will exist because love will exist. Which side we choose, that’s up to us. Let us choose wisely.