Published September 19, 2013
Question: Why did God create a world like this when He knew we were going to create a hell on earth?
Answer: First, it is assumed, rightly, that God has foreknowledge and therefore knew that His creation would go wrong and result in a world of wars and a planet of pestilence of one kind or another.
Second, it is assumed, not so rightly, that God has allowed hell to break loose and overshadow everything that is wonderful and beautiful – to the point that neither God nor His followers can take any pride in His present creation.
Third, it is assumed, not so rightly, that God has stood by and done little or nothing about this mess – except on occasion to wreak judgment on places like Sodom and Gomorrah.
Fourth, it is assumed that God could/should have created a better product that wouldn’t have gone so wrong so quickly!
The first assumption is accepted and acknowledged in Judeo-Christian teaching. We live in a world gone wrong because the human race has embraced too much selfishness and too little godliness.
In spite of all that is wrong with the world, we must not throw out the baby with the dirty bath water. Couples may talk about not wanting to bring their children into this rotten world, but those who do have children experience both the joy and agony of parenthood; and, the joys tend to overshadow the agonies, unless people are excessively self-centered.
In the midst of poverty, sickness, misery, and death we find few who would willingly choose “nothingness” over life with its love and loyalty, music and beauty, activity and creativity. There are far more than mere glimpses of heavenly goodness throughout our world, especially wherever the light of Christ touches and changes lives. This leads us to the third assumption.
Although our world has its troubles, God is busy bringing good out of evil (which I wrote about in a previous article). Above all, He trumps evil. The essence of evil is self-centeredness, and the one and only antidote for such evil is the kind of unconditional and self-sacrificing love of Christ demonstrated in His death on the cross.
The proven and undeniable historical evidence is that His followers have been busy for 2,000 years lighting lights, which have sometimes flickered and even gone out, but which have on the whole brightened this often darkened world.
Where there has been sickness and death, Christians have founded and funded hospitals and hospices. Where there has been ignorance, Christians have founded and funded schools and universities. Where there has been corruption and oppression, Christians have launched reformations. Where there has been hatred, Christians have sown the seeds of loving kindness!
Finally, there is the assumption that God could/should have created a better world where rampant and repugnant evil could and would not flourish. This is a most understandable question that many have thought or felt. However, no one has offered a better alternative.
We have been created in the image of God with the God-given ability to love or not to love, to build up or tear down, to forgive and forget or nurse the hurt.
Whether we like it or not, the opportunity for the good entails the risk of opposite choices. Every family, community, and country needs a fertile “free soil” for the best of plants/qualities to grow, but within that same “free soil” are weeds that can and will grow. Just as excessive chemicals kill not only the weeds but poison the plants and those who eat them, surely we have learned that our own experiments with totalitarianism for the good of mankind leads to a worse hell on earth – far worse than where freedom thrives.
Jesus Himself said in one of His parables: Sometimes it is better to let the good and bad grow together until the harvest – which is coming.
Paul Baxter serves as pastor of First Baptist Church on the Square in LaGrange.
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