God and Evil

Genesis 3:1-7 1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3but God said,  ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” 4  But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,  she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

I believe God allowed (did not cause, but allowed) the fall in the garden in part so that we would have the opportunity to know Him more fully. Had we never learned of the depths of depravity to which evil can sink, it would be easy to miss the depth of the love, the glory, the goodness, the mercy of the Lord.  It’s not a difficult concept.   Humans seem to work this way-  we don’t know what we’ve got till it’s gone.  (I know, the song is playing in my head, too.)  Similarly, I don’t think I would understand the grace and mercy and love of the Lord in the same way I do had I not experienced it myself in the face of my own depravity.

Ultimately I believe God’s purpose in creating us is relationship- it’s love.  The cross was for the purpose of relationship.  The wages of sin are death.  That’s God’s rule from day one.   Sin separates us from God.  He doesn’t want to be separated but He wants us to love Him so He must give us the ability to choose.

The Old Testament is all about God coming upon His people in brief encounters through the sacrificed blood of the most perfect animals.  But He wanted more.  He wanted to be with us always, even until the end of time.  He didn’t want to just come upon.  He wanted to indwell us. So He had to find a way to pay our sin debt, to spill blood that was perfect, the only eternal and permanent payment for sin.  But there were and are no sinless people since Adam and Eve and the apple.   The only sinless blood was His own.   And therefore only His own blood could ever cause the dark of sin to be eliminated once and for all, for always.  That’s why Christians have no faith if Mary wasn’t a virgin.   And there is no Christianity unless Jesus was in fact God Himself, just as He said He was.

But I digress.

When I have no money, I appreciate money in a whole new way.

When there’s no toilet paper, I appreciate toilet paper in a whole new way.

When I lose my energy, I appreciate the energy I had in a whole new way.

When I have a toothache, I understand how blessed I was to not have one.

You get the idea.   When I see the news, when I see children being murdered relentlessly, when I see all the other atrocities, I understand the question,  “Where is God?”

He revealed the answer to one of the most profound questions of life to me one day many decades ago while I was in such a great deal of emotional pain.  I will never forget it.  I hope it clarifies for you.  I’ve tested it against scripture and it comes out clean.

It was a sunny day and I was sitting outside, alone, but in a public park.  I was staring at the water in the pond beside me.   I was a human being, crumbled into a small pile of broken pieces, desperate for someone or something to help me find a way to put it all back together. I had tiny children, for goodness sake, and they needed me.   I was desperately ill physically with an unknown illness and therefore no diagnosis or cure in sight, I had no money with which to buy groceries and no ability to work,  my husband had moved out of the country and abandoned me with a 5 year old and a 2 1/2 year old, replaced by another woman. I was weary, exhausted, frightened, lost.  But I knew Jesus and He was holding me tight.  At the same time,  I was desperate for God to intervene and turn my husband’s heart back to us.   I didn’t have any clear path, no way out. I felt desperate.  I begged God.  I cried.  I pleaded.  I was angry that He wouldn’t do what I asked even though what I was asking was certainly His will.

In those moments, the moments of seemingly endless pain and desperation, He answered me.   I saw it.  I saw it in an instant.  It wasn’t spelled out to me.  It was suddenly dropped into my spirit, in all of its wholeness, like a nuclear bomb.  It changed me.  It changed my view of the world- of our purpose, of His nature, of His infinite love.    As grieved as He was over my husband’s choices, and over mine as well, His desire for love was the strong and mighty bridle on the mammoth, muscular, infinite horse named Power that He rode.

In those moments, I knew more of who God is than at any time before.   It was His love that allowed my husband to abandon us. It was His love that  promised as in Romans 8:28 that He would work even these things for good in our lives (and He certainly has).

For God to stop one person’s hand from striking another means God would eradicate love from the planet in that instant.  The removal of free will from one would be the removal of free will from all because He’s no respecter of persons. And without free will, love cannot exist.   And since He’s not in time, it would have been so from the beginning regardless of when an event in which He interfered would have happened.   God cannot interfere with the free will of one man without simultaneously erasing love from our universe.  He cannot break His own rules.

So here’s the next oxymoron-   Love must allow the possibility of evil in order for love itself to exist.  Yet, love can overcome evil by His power.

Take Away:   Free will must exist in order for love to exist.  God cannot take away the free will of any human being without halting the existence of love in the universe.

Prayer:   Lord, I want to know You more.  Help me to see Your true nature, Your true self, and help me to always choose Your way.  Thank You for the opportunity to love You and thank You for loving me.

 

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