To Love or Not to Love

Yesterday was 9/11, a day that only needs numbers for us to be reminded of the unspeakable evil associated with it. Today, someone very dear to me is walking through a situation none of us should ever have to walk through, due only to the choices of others.

And I ask why. Why is my world full of hurting people? My husband’s title is “Pastor of Freedom Ministry” at our church; his job is to help set captives free, which assumes some level of captivity to begin with. There’s a never-ending stream of people that come through too, looking for solutions to their pain. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who hadn’t been wounded in some way or another, whether they wanted to admit it or not.

The question, whether asked aloud or not, is always the same: “How could God let this happen?” In other words, if God really is a loving, kind Father, like we Christians say He is, then how could this horrible thing have happened? How could thousands of innocent people have been killed in a terrorist attack? How could an innocent child have been so horribly abused at the hands of a parent? What about rape? Murder?

Evil is real. Horrible things happen on our planet–and God doesn’t stop them from happening. How, then, can He really be the benevolent deity we’ve always heard?

What if the fact that these things happen is proof of His love?

Don’t shoot; let me explain.

God created a race of people for one purpose: to love Him. He is love, so He created out of love. And because He is love, He created those people with a strange ability: the ability to choose to love Him back–or not.

We are not automatons; we are not Stepford Wives, programmed to blindly follow the will of the one who created us. We’re not puppets on strings. Instead, we are created with our own will, our own ability to choose.

Love isn’t love if it’s not chosen. Consider sex: take away the element of choice in that act, and what do you have? You don’t have something slightly less than love, you have evil. Only when both parties involved have complete freedom to choose can we call it love. I love my husband, but I cannot control his choice to love me. Only he can do that. I adore my children, but I cannot force them to love me. I have to allow them to choose. To remove that freedom is to become controlling and manipulative–a form of abuse.

God truly is a loving Father; hence the freedom to choose Him or not. This freedom allows the existence of real evil to exist in the world, evil that is decidedly not His will. But because He loves us so much, He will allow us to choose. In Genesis, He created a world in which there was no pain, no sorrow, no death–only life and joy and peace and righteousness and love. But there was a choice: Adam and Eve knew there was one place they shouldn’t go, and yet they went there.

Because they had choice. They already knew the consequences: “For in the day you eat of it, you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17). They knew, and yet they chose.

In that moment, they disconnected from that Kingdom of life, joy, peace, righteousness and love, and connected to themselves. No longer did they look to the One who is Himself love as source. Now they looked only to their own knowledge of right and wrong as source. Good and evil became subjective terms.

They had a choice.

As do we. We are free to choose Him–or not. We are free to choose love–or not. As long as we have that choice, real evil will be possible.

But we also have the freedom to choose Him, and by doing so, to choose access to a Kingdom with an unlimited supply of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. We have a real choice to impact the real evil around us by being conduits of that Kingdom, bringing Heaven on earth wherever we go–in our families, our jobs, our communities.

What choice will you make?

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2 comments so far

  1. Kristi Avalos on

    You should take sick days more often! Well said.

  2. debdearmond on

    My brother questioned me once along these lines: “If there’s an all powerful god why doesn’t he put a stop to hate and homelessness and babies being abused?” My response, “I’m afraid if I inquired, he might ask me the same thing. So how are you stepping up to end that stuff?” Stopped him cold – we have a choice.


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