My heart broke this past week when the lead singer of a popular Christian band renounced his faith in Jesus in a very public way. What broke my heart was not the damage this might do to the faith of those over whom he has influence, although that is troublesome. It didn’t break my heart the way the media latched onto the story and the damage something like this inflicts on the Church, although this too is cause for prayer.
The Church will survive. The gates of Hell will not prevail against us, no matter how unexpected the attack (Matthew 16:18). What broke my heart were the reasons this individual gave for no longer believing. There are straightforward answers to his questions, and yet somehow, no one in this man’s life could counsel him with the truth.
The first objection he raised about his faith was the age-old problem of evil. This man is the son of a pastor and grew up in the church. And yet he had no answer for the problem of evil. A quick search of the web or even a casual conversation with friends reveals he is not alone in his bewilderment of why God allows evil in the world. I’ve chosen not to name the person or the band in this article. The reason is I don’t see this as the misunderstanding of any one person. I see it as a failure by the Church at large who did not prepare this man with the knowledge of who God is and what it means to follow Christ.
The problem of evil exists because God has given us the two-fold gift of free will and love. We could not love God if we did not have the free will to do so. Love cannot be coerced; it must be chosen. If we were not free to love, we could never know or show love. God gave us free will so we could choose to love Him. He knew there was a monumental risk in allowing us to choose Him, as it would also allow us to not choose Him. But God knew from the beginning that love is worth the risk.
As creatures who are free to choose, many times we choose to sin. It has always been this way. And so now we have a world that is suffering from the consequences of sin that has compounded over ten thousand years. Every sin causes damage to the way God intended things to be, and every sin of every person makes things a little worse than they were before. It didn’t take long for things to go sideways, and now we have the mess of the world we live in today.
But God is always in control of the outcome. We cannot choose or create a scenario for which He does not have a plan to bring back around for His ultimate purpose. However, because of our propensity to sin and the way sin has snowballed over the centuries, our world is groaning (Romans 8:22). We see the results of our damaged earth in the form of famine, disease, earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes. Compounding sin results in turning the hearts of some men so evil they do unspeakable acts upon their fellow humans.
We must understand the problem of evil does not rest at the feet of God. It rests on each one of us. God is light, and there is no darkness in Him (1 John 1:5-7). There is no evil in God, so we must look elsewhere to point the finger for the problem of evil. That finger points squarely back at us. We choose to sin, and every time we do it has catastrophic effects on the world now and in the future.
If you struggle to understand how a good God could allow evil, understand the truth is our good God is not responsible for us choosing to reject Him. He wants nothing more than to love you and for you to love Him back. Our trouble isn’t the problem of evil. It’s the problem of our selfishness and choosing to reject the perfect love and way of Jesus.