Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why Didn't God Make Everybody Loving?

Q: I was wondering why God didn’t make all people loving, like there’s no hatred or meanness. Every one’s loving and caring so no one goes to hell. That just popped in my mind. Please answer back!

A: The simple answer to this question is that God did make all people good originally. Of course, this is not what we experience in our everyday lives. While the idea of an everlasting Hell where real people go to endure never-ending, conscious punishment and torment for their sins is controversial in some circles (being challenged in new ways by people both within and without the church), surely no one can argue about the reality that some people are just plain hateful and mean (again, both within and without the church!).

So, if God made everyone good and this is not what we experience when we look around God’s creation, then what happened?

A good place to start is at the Beginning. In Genesis 1 & 2 we see the record of the Creation event, and God declares everything that He has made to be "very good" (Genesis 1:31). God then places the pinnacle of His very good creation, Man (both male and female; Genesis 1:27), into the Garden of Eden. In this Garden, God also placed the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

It is important to understand that God created Man in His own image, to be free as God is free, and to enjoy fellowship with Himself. To truly be “free” implies that there must be an ability to make choices and to have the responsibility for those choices. Freedom without choice is only an illusion, and God is not a deceiver (Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). Genuine freedom requires the ability to choose, even if that ability opens the door to something bad.

We see this freedom to choose in God’s first instruction to the Man after placing him in the garden: Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The LORD God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die." (Genesis 2:15-17, NASB, emphasis added)

God tells the man of his freedom to choose and is explicit in telling him that to choose to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil will bring catastrophic results: death. Up until this point, God’s creation only knew good … to choose to also know evil is allowed in God’s good creation, but is also warned against. Unfortunately, the warning of God was not heeded.

Instead, the man rebelled against His creator and listened to the deceiver bringing death upon himself and all of creation.

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned … Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. (Romans 5:12, 14, NASB)

Because of the rebellion of Adam, sin and death entered into God’s good creation. We see not long after the Fall of humanity that God still strives to make His ways known, but His wise counsel and direction is again rejected.

After Adam and Eve are driven out of the Garden, they have children: Cain and Abel. In Genesis 4, we see that Abel does what is right in the eyes of the Lord and offers sacrifices according to the requirements of God … but Cain offers what he desires, not what God desires.

As a result of living life on his own terms, Cain’s offering is not regarded by the Lord, but his brother Abel’s sacrifice is accepted because Abel is living according to God’s terms. Instead of repenting of his selfishness and of his idolatry (living as if he were his own god), Cain becomes angry (Genesis 4:2-5).

What we see next is very important: Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." (Genesis 4:6-7, NASB)

God is straight-forward with Cain – He says, why are you angry? If you do the right thing and live the way I’m telling you to live, as the Creator, then it will go well for you! But if you will not live my way, sin is crouching at your door.

The picture here is of an enemy lying in wait to overtake you … sin literally lies in wait for the door to be opened to our rebellion against God, and when the opportunity is given, sin overtakes us and brings forth it’s fruit: death (see also James 1:14-16).

God, in His mercy and compassion, tells us in advance that if we live our lives on our terms that it will bring disaster, but if we live as if He were God, then the result will be life. Since the Fall, all of Creation has turned its own way and rejected God.

All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way (Isa 53:6a, NASB).

And because of this reality, God has given humanity over to the consequences of this rebellion.

And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:28-32, NASB)

Hell was not created for humans, but for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). Just like in the beginning, God is declaring that His desire is not for any to perish but for all to come to repentance and life (2 Peter 3:9). In fact, even though God’s creation has rejected and despised it’s Creator, the Creator has lavished his love upon us.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NASB)

God, in His love, has done the work necessary to reverse the curse.

But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. (Romans 5:15, NASB)

Really, all of Romans 5 is worth reading to get the picture of how God has demonstrated His patience and love towards His creation which has selfishly rebelled against Him. And while God waits patiently for as many who will repent and believe (John 3:16), He continues to shine His light and tell us how to live (John 1). Not only does He tell us to love each other as He has loved us, but He promises to actually live through us if we’ll place our trust in the Savior Jesus (John 15)!

No one has to go to hell, because God has done the work to save us and reconcile us to Himself (Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20; Colossians 1:19-23). The unfortunate reality is that many will persist in their rebellion against the true and living God, using the very freedom He gave to be a blessing to be their curse.

Hatred and meanness are by-products of the rejection of God. While He provides the freedom to choose, it is humanity that creates the reality of sin by abusing that freedom. And while some may protest that God should have never given us such a huge responsibility, it is not up to the creation to tell the Creator how to make it (Romans 9:19-24). It was God’s good will and pleasure to create the reality of genuine freedom in humanity to either submit to His lordship or to reject Him – in God’s eyes this was better than created beings who have no such freedom and worship Him out of compulsion.

"I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them." (Deuteronomy 30:19-20, NASB)

No comments: