Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.
Today we continue our series on the problem of evil, asking: If God is powerful and loving, why is there so much evil? Is he too weak to stop it? Or not loving enough to care?
One popular answer is that God wanted to create people who would love him, and that love is only possible when people have free will. So when God gave Adam and Eve the world as their playground, he imposed a prohibition, a tree with forbidden fruit, to test their love and obedience.
Think about that.
The whole world? Now there’s a generous gift! But, as many of us have discovered, love is not measured in gifts given and received, but in relationship. Surely God didn’t think such a gift would make Adam and Eve love him fully and automatically. The story hints that God was working toward a relationship, like when he walked with them in the Garden. But it doesn’t read like a love story, with God wooing Adam and Eve into a relationship of love.
And think about that prohibition. If I see a child running between parked cars into traffic, I don’t question whether I should violate her free will. I’ll grab her arm and pull her back. And then talk with her about safety. Her love may grow as she matures–if I create room for her to grow, by restraining her foolish childish impulses.
When Adam and Eve contemplated the forbidden fruit, couldn’t God have initiated a helpful conversation, saying: “Hey, if you meet a talking snake, watch out for bad advice. Let me show you a bit of the snake’s plan for a world of evil and death. That might not be the way you want to go.”
Do you think unrestrained freedom is necessary for love? Scripture says God is love. It also says he’s not free to lie, to break promises, or even be tempted by evil. Could he not have made humans in his image, free to learn and grow in love, without the long threat of evil hanging over the human race?
Our father, as we look at the horrors in our world, as Russia destroys Ukrainian cities, as thousands die and millions seek refuge, we ask, “Is human freedom worth that price? A few of us use our freedom to give you a small amount of love, while others use their freedom to kill and maim and destroy.
Our father, perhaps we know less than we thought about freedom and slavery. Why did you give Adam and Eve a capability even you do not have–the capacity to be tempted by sin? Did they understand the consequences of their choice, or did they stumble inadvertently, as we so often do, into a labyrinth of evil?
Our father, it’s a long way back home from where the world and its people have come. Be to us father and savior and God. Lead us and our world on that journey home, we pray.
I’m Daniel, on the channel “Pray with Me”.
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