We run our website the way we wished the whole internet worked: we provide high quality original content with no ads. We are funded solely by your direct support. Please consider supporting this project.

The Risk of Love & the Source of Evil

Image by Gualtiero via Flickr

Image by Gualtiero via Flickr

On Sunday Greg tweeted the following: 

Love IS a tremendous risk. But if humans ever concluded the risk was not worth it, we likely become extinct rather quickly. …

Yes, love is risky. It costs us everything, and we sometimes get terribly hurt. But it’s this risk that “makes the world go round.” … 

And it seems to me that, once we accept that the risk inherent in love is worth it– for us AND for GOD–the problem of evil is resolved. 

Here are some further reflections of Greg’s on the risk of love.

While there will always be a great deal of mystery as to why specific evil events transpire the way they do, the Bible does give us an answer as to how evil originates. It has to do with this precious and dangerous thing called free will.

God could have easily created a world in which nothing evil could never happen. But this world would not have been capable of love. Certainly God could have preprogrammed agents to say loving things and to act in loving ways. He could even have preprogrammed these automatons to believe they were choosing to love. But these preprogrammed agents would not genuinely be loving. Love can only be genuine if it’s freely chosen. Which means, unless a personal agent has the capacity to choose against love, they don’t really have the capacity to choose for it.

In fact, if you think deeply about it, I think you’ll agree that the concept of a “preprogrammed lover “ is completely meaningless,—similar to the concept of a “married bachelor” or a “round triangle.” The reason God can’t create these things is not that he lacks any power, but because a “married bachelor” and a “round triangle” are self-contradictory. They’re equivalent to nothingness, so it’s no limitation on God to say he can’t create them.  So too, the reason God can’t create a “preprogrammed lover” is because the very idea of an agent who is capable of love but not capable of choosing against love is meaningless.

So, if God’s primary purpose in creation is raising up a people who are capable of receiving and reflecting his love and carrying out his will “on earth as it is in heaven,” these people will have to have the potential to choose against love. The same is true of angels. And this is how all evil originates. The price of the possibility of love is freedom, and with freedom comes the possibility of evil.

Though some Christians unfortunately think God’s will includes evil, the Bible depicts sin as evil precisely because it constitutes a rejection of God’s will. For example, Scripture says that the lawyers and Sadducees of Jesus’ day sin because they “rejected God’s purpose for themselves” (Lk 7:30, emphasis added). So too, through Isaiah the Lord says to the children of Israel:

Oh, rebellious children, says the LORD,

who carry out a plan, but not mine;

who make an alliance, but against my will,

adding sin to sin. (Is. 30:1, emphasis added)

As C.S. Lewis noted in Mere Christianity, this is the most amazing aspect of creation: the omnipotent God created beings who have the capacity to reject him. He could have created a world that necessarily conforms to his every whim, but while this sort of creation would obviously be devoid of any evil or suffering, it also would be devoid of love.

This only touches the surface on what the Bible has to say about free will. I’ll say more in tomorrow’s post.

Related Reading

Possibility of Love

In this video, Greg explores the core sin that stands in the way of love. You might be surprised by what it is. Video by The Work of the People

If you were born today (or whenever you were born) this is for you

 

God Does Not Always Get What He Wants

One of the ways the Bible makes it clear that humans have free will and that God doesn’t predetermine human decisions is found in the responses God has toward human choices. Scripture consistently depicts God as being frustrated by the way his people obstinately resist his plans and Scripture often depicts God’s heart as breaking…

How Judging Blocks Love

What keeps us from fulfilling the law of love that is exemplified by Jesus and laid out in the Scriptures (Matt. 22:39-40; Rom 13:8,10 Gal 5:14)? In a word, we like to pass verdicts. To some extent, we get our sense of worth from attaching worth or detracting worth from others, based on what we…

Corrective Love

drp via Compfight Kathy Escobar posted the other day about providing “corrective experiences” to those who have been hurt in the past. How many of us have approached Christians with our wounds and have been offered more of the same instead of the love and acceptance we’re longing for? How beautiful it would be if…

The Trinity and the Crucified God

God has always been willing to stoop to accommodate the fallen state of his covenant people in order to remain in a transforming relationship with them and in order to continue to further his sovereign purposes through them. This is revealed in the life and death of Jesus. Out of love for humankind, Jesus emptied…