One of the biggest questions in the world is, “If God is all knowing, all powerful, and all good, then why is there evil and innocent suffering?” I think this question is used to justify humanity’s contempt for having to be accountable to anyone else, including God. However, contrary to popular belief, there is an answer to this question.
In the beginning, when God created humanity, He created them with the free will to choose their actions without imposing His desires upon them. He created humanity with the intellectual capacity to make conscious decisions for themselves. This included the ability to choose to engage in actions that are contrary to what He desires for them.
Why would God create humanity with such a powerful tool if He is all knowing and knew humanity would choose the alternative path more frequently? Because of one factor: Love. God knows that true, authentic, and unconditional love does not place demands upon the receiving party. Love provides the opportunity for the receiving party to have the freedom to choose the gift from the Giver and reciprocate it in return. The same freedom lies within the relational interactions between humanity. We have to choose to love one another reciprocally. Therefore, because God placed these limitations upon Himself to ensure that true love would occur in true freedom and not through coercive acts.
This love would result in obedience and consisted of one thing: to not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. However, the prevailing thought says, “If God created everything, then it must mean that He created evil too.” Also, in this school of thought is the belief that because God created the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the blame lies with Him because He knew that humanity would eat from the tree. Humanity chose to commit the act of disobedience in the beginning, and subsequently, refused to accept responsibility for the consequences of their decision. Amazingly, the cycle continues in our contemporary context because humanity refuses to accept responsibility for the current events of the world. We continue to place blame upon God for the evil that exists in the world today.
Humanity’s challenge of God’s omniscience progresses to its challenge of God’s omnipotence. The question is asked, “If God is all powerful, then why does He not eliminate all evil?” This question is often asked to cause God’s “supposed” omnipotence to be perceived as impotence. This question can be answered by considering a parent’s ability to restrain themselves from intervening when one of their children engages in behaviors that are contrary to the parent’s desired behavior.
It takes a considerable amount of power to be able to watch someone you love engage in reckless behavior that could potentially have detrimental results, and not impose your will upon them. Why would we allow it to occur? Because we know that the person has the freedom to make their own decisions. In addition to this, if we attempted to impose our will upon them, they would eventually find an avenue through which they will do whatever it is they have decided to do.
This acknowledgement does not render the parent powerless to effect change in the lives of their children. It presents another opportunity to continue to choose to love their child and provide the essential assistance when the child is ready to leave their reckless behavior behind. This is how God interacts with humanity. God never abandons us. As a Father, He loves us unconditionally enough to allow us to chart our own course and patiently waits for us to realize that sometimes our decision is not what is best for us.
Humanity must understand that power is not the ability to coerce others to bend to our demands. It is the ability to restrain ourselves in situations wherein we could exercise influence, dominion and domination over others. But God did not create us to dominate others. Nor did He create us to have dominion over others. He created us and gave us dominion over the other parts of His creation. Even with this dominion over the rest of creation, we are to exercise appreciation for and good stewardship over the relationship between humanity and creation.
In consideration of this, humanity’s challenge of God’s omniscience and omnipotence leads to a challenge concerning His goodness. The argument hear says, “If God is good, then why does He allow bad things to happen in the world?” The answer to this is that once we recognize that our adamant assertion of independence is a effort in futility and an exercise of disillusionment, then we will begin to understand that no person can truly live without being interconnected to another. We each possess an attribute(s) that complements and adds value to those of others. We each have a deficit of sorts and need the addition of someone else’s gifting. This is what constitutes human community.
Have you ever noticed that great things happen when we come together and pool our resources together as a global community? Conversely, when we begin to assert our personal agendas, the fabric of the human community is threatened. Why? Because oftentimes what comprises our personal agenda is an ideology that is only beneficial to a select few within the community. This frame of thinking does not leave room for benevolence because it is born out of selfishness. What is selfishness? It is when we turn our worldview from the benefit of the human community to our own personal benefit. We lose sight of everyone else in pursuit of our own agenda.
What does this have to do with the goodness of God? We must take notice that in each human activity mentioned above, humanity was the initiating agent of each action. There must be an honest assessment of the result by stating that none of us stops being who we are because of the actions of a few.
Likewise, God does not stop being Who He is because of the actions of those who have chosen to engage in actions that are only beneficial for a few. God is still God and this means that He is still good. Why is He good? Because He made a decision to engage in creating something with whom He could share His love. Everything that was necessary for life was provided for us. It was only after humanity made a conscious decision to assert its independence from the Source Who was sustaining them did the consequence of evil enter into the human equation.
Everything God has done for humanity was motivated by love. This includes creating humanity with the capacity to love Him and the rest of His creation as well. Choosing to love God would automatically result in obedience to God. Why? Because God does not require us to do anything that would violate His standard for living. This standard for living is holiness, which results in justice, mercy, and peace. These attributes are the natural outflow of love for God and love for others.
So this explains why everything was very good when God reflected on His creation. It was a mere reflection of Who He is because He poured out of Himself into creation. Therefore, nothing that comes from Him can be evil because He is the essence of all that is good. All that is inherently good stems from the motivating factor of love. Love is what initiated God’s creative activity.
God’s love completely exonerates Him from all false accusations of impotence and disinterest concerning the affairs of humanity. Humanity must begin to look inwardly to determine whether they are aligned with what they were initially created to be. If not, then humanity must realize that it will take a Power outside of itself to change its course. Why? Because history is humanity’s greatest teacher that its greatest efforts have been largely unsuccessful to reverse its current trajectory.
What are your thoughts? I would appreciate any feedback from anyone. This is a community effort to living our best life in honor of the One Who has given us this life to live. Love God, love others, and love yourself!
Sean Mungin, author of “The Thorn In The Flesh”