At this time in history it is hard to get two people to agree on anything, let alone get a consensus in a group. Everyone has their own view point and seemingly anyone who differs is wrong. But there is one thing that most people would agree on – the world we live in is broken. And not just in need of a small tune-up, rather, in need of a major overhaul.
The violence that occurred in Charlottesville this past Saturday left us all shocked, angry, filled with grief, and numb. It is natural to ask – Why does God allow this evil to happen? If God is so good why does He allow such violence and anger to continue?
The answer is this – our ability to make choices. While we are made in God’s image (Gen. 1:27), He also gave us the freedom to make our own choices, both good and bad choices. Because of a decision made by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, mankind fell into sin. Romans 3:23 tells us that “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
This free will granted to us by God is both our greatest blessing and our worst curse. We have the freedom to decide how to act, what to eat for breakfast, who to marry, what to watch on television, whether or not to commit our lives to Him, and sadly, yes, also the choice to stir up rage or drive a car into a group of people with a differing viewpoint.
God could eliminate the evil done in this world by taking away our ability to make choices. If we did, we would become puppets who do and say what God wants said and done. We would be like marionettes, with God pulling the strings. However, God does not desire us to be like puppets. He desires to be loved by people who freely choose to follow and obey him. Love is not love if there is no other option. Obedience is not obedience if there is no other option.
You probably know what is likely the most familiar verse found in the Bible – “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
But did you know, just a few verses later, we find out the root of our evil – “This is the crisis we are in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God.” (John 3:19, MSG)
So, that very same God who gave us free will, the ability to do and say both good and bad, also sent His Son into the world as a way for us to be redeemed and restored, giving us face time with the One who will help us carry out His will, His agenda, and not our own.
Let us all be praying for God’s will to be done first in our own lives so we can then share that good news with those around us. We cannot sit by and allow what happened in Charlottesville to keep on happening. Collectively, let us be using our free will to love the world not harm it.
“Hatred, racism, and injustice must be met with love, listening, and learning. There is no shortcut.” (Phil Strout, Vineyard USA National Director)
New Bern, North Carolina