Diamonds and coal are made from the same substance, carbon. They are both formed by heat and pressure, but the results are very, very different.
Coal burns and can be a source of energy, though it is not a very clean source of energy because it’s full of impurities. Diamonds have few impurities and won’t burn.
Diamonds on the other hand are among the hardest substances. They can be used in industrial applications for cutting metal and similar uses because they are so hard and immutable. Coal is soft and combustible. It is dirty and rubs off everywhere.
Diamonds are clean, translucent, rare and beautiful. Diamonds are highly valued, while coal is something we would rather not use if we had other choices, even for burning up in a fire.
Has there ever been a greater evil in the world then this?
God humbled himself to become a man, divesting himself of all of his greatness and glory, and became obedient to his own tune. The light came into the world, but the world loved darkness instead. God became a man, and men who God created rejected him. God presented himself to us, and we crucified him, publicly humiliating him, cruelly beating and torturing him, mocking him as he died on the cross.
Is there no greater love than this?
God, the creator of the universe became one of us. He laid aside all of his greatness that sets Him above everything that He created and become part of His creation. That he would do that for us, experiencing the same sorrows, the same humiliation, the same awful pain, the, the same rejection, the same fatigue and need for sleep and hunger and thirst as we experience. That God would stoop to become one of us and to die on a cross as a sacrifice for us to redeem us from our own sinful ways that include rejecting the very God who created us.
That God would do these things reveals to us that he works in and through a sinful, fallen, and evil world, and He uses the very darkness of the world to display His light and His love for us. God stands above and beyond time, surveying all that is, all that ever was, and all that ever will be. He knew the time of His coming before the initial burst of the creation of the cosmos that spawned the earth and eventual life it would contain, including us. He knew the time of His dying at the hands of His very creation. He knew the time of His rising from the dead, and He knows the end He has planned out for all those who receive Him.
Just as God’s light shone in the darkness of the world in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, we can take comfort in the hope of salvation God wrought for us and the promises that await us.
I often listen to podcasts in the morning as I shave, shower, brush my teeth and get ready for work. Today I was listening to Dr. William Lane Craig respond to some questions about free will and suffering, and his comments prompt this blog piece.
He made the following statement
“Natural suffering forms the arena in which the drama is played out of people being freely called to come into the kingdom of God and find an eternal relationship with God. It is not at all improbable that only in a world infused with natural suffering would an optimal number of people freely respond to God’s gracious and initiatives and come to enjoy a relationship with God and eternal salvation.”
Dr. Craig represents the Molinist view of the tension between God’s sovereignty, knowledge and power and man’s free will. On the Molinist view, God knows the future, but he does not determine it. Knowing the future, God chose to set the universe in motion, but he does not determine every aspect of it, including the choices that people make. Knowing the future, God chose to set the universe in motion, and to that extent, He determines the outcome, because He knows the outcome. He does not determine it, however, to the extent of interfering with the free will He gave humans who are created in His image. The fact that he knows the outcome, does not mean that He determine the choices each person makes. Each person is free to choose as they will, but God knows how they will choose from the beginning, and so He wills it.
This is (my simple version of) the Molinist view. It respects God’s sovereignty, while acknowledging the clear implication of free will and moral responsibility to which God holds us that is reflected from beginning to end in the Bible.
I tend to like the Molinist view, but I am always somewhat cautioned in my own thinking not to be overly concerned with doctrinal nuances. I don’t want to die on a Molinist hill other than the Gospel. The Calvinist resurgence in the church today stands in contrast to a more Armenian view of inviolate free will. Many have been the discussions and debates between these two views, and I fear we spend too much time and energy on debating when we should spend more time living out the Gospel. I think Paul might lump these debates in the category of vain discussions.
Still, I think it is good to chew on these things as they may be beneficial to our knowledge and understanding of God. As I thought about Dr. Craig’s comment above, I could not help think that this is a kind of divine utilitarianism – what is optimal for generating the most free will responses of love for, relationship with God and eternal life with God.
Dr. Craig’s thesis is an attempt to explain why suffering exists in the world when God is supposed to be good, all-powerful and sovereign. Why doesn’t God stop suffering if He is all those things? Why does he allow suffering at all?
I am reading a book by Clay Jones called Why Does God Allow Evil? I highly recommend it. The “problem of evil” is one of the more challenging questions that we face in life, and difficulties struggling with that question have led many people to abandon or refuse to embrace faith in God.
Why does God allow pain and suffering? If God is good, how can He allow people to suffer? Why doesn’t God stop evil? If God exists, why does He allow evil to exist? These are just some of the variations of the problem of evil.
The problem of evil is a challenge for every worldview. Responses include that there is no God, and that’s just the way it is (a naturalistic world view); evil is just an illusion of unenlightened souls (a Buddhist or eastern view); evil is result of bad karma (Hindu); or evil is the result of rebellsion against God – sin (Christian). We all struggle with the conviction that things simply aren’t the way they ought to be. That Utopian disconnect urges us to ask, “Why not?”
I think, personally, that the Christian worldview makes the most sense of this question. It begins with the story of God and Adam and Eve. Whether the story is allegorical or historical, the answer involves God’s purpose in creating man, man’s finite, corruptible character (compared to God’s infinite, pure character) and a plan to develop this corruptible creature (man) who is created in God’s own image into a pure, loving relationship with God that is defined by God’s pure character, and not the corruptible nature of man.
“[U]unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.”
Things aren’t necessarily as they seem. Our lives seem vibrant, filled with import and purpose when we are children. Everything is fresh. Summer days, puffy white clouds and blue skies seem to last forever. The older we get, the faster the days seem to go, the less the sun seems to shine. The more fleeting becomes the clouds and the blue skis. The polish of our lives, which seemed so fresh once, begins to dull.
For most of us, we fight disappointment throughout our lives. Our dreams never seem to come to fruition. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick….”
We learn to carry on. We have nowhere to go but forward. Those of us who don’t spend our time thinking of what could have been, might have been, make an awkward peace with the past. We try to make the most of the present and adjust hope for our future.
We learn to dream less. We learn to rein our hopes in, tethering them closer to the ground. Disappointment lowers our expectations. We cling to what we can hold onto, and we risk, thereby, losing it all.
“You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.” (James 5:11))
People can relate to the story of Job. He suffered physical ailments, the loss of his family and all he owned. Many people have suffered similar losses, but what of the compassion of God?
Job is a long book. Most of it focuses on Job’s suffering and questioning – Why me?! We are told in the beginning that Job was pure and upright, but then he suffered terribly at the hands of Satan … while God looked on! His religious friends are not very sympathetic. They talked a lot, but they didn’t say much other than to question: “If you’re so good, why is God God treating you so badly?”
Job’s friends didn’t believe that Job was as good as he claimed. The truth is, he probably wasn’t, but that’s another story. The truth is also that “bad things happen to good people”. Life isn’t fair in the hard times it dishes out. “Good” people sometimes have the worst luck, and “bad” people sometimes seem to get all the good things.