Last post on the book of John we saw how God so loved us, that He allowed His Son to suffer a horrible death, to pay the price for our sins, so we could be reconciled to Him in heaven. That’s the message of John 3:16. And then in John 3:17 we saw how God’s purpose isn’t to condemn anyone, but instead His purpose is exactly the opposite, His purpose is to rescue everyone from condemnation. (John 3:17, 2 Peter 3:9, See previous post For God So Loved You)
Today we’ll explore the next verse after John 3:16-17. Speaking of himself Jesus says,
“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:18)
Suffering, Evil, And Condemnation
You know, among atheists, the number one objection to the God of the Bible is the existence of evil and suffering. They take from the Scottish Philosopher David Hume this idea: that a good, omnipotent, and omniscient God would prevent all evil, and that therefore, if evil exists, a good, omnipotent, and omniscient God can not exist. That sounds pretty reasonable on the surface. But there’s one big problem with looking at God and the world this way. It ignores the part about God being omniscient. Because if God is omniscient–and we’re not–it’s likely He will have higher purposes in mind other than making sure our environment is free from difficulties. And it’s logical that, at times, we would find the logic of an omniscient God to be beyond our understanding.
But, here’s the thing: even when God addresses evil, unbelievers object again. Think this through with me. “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
So God receives those who believe into His presence. And He creates an environment just like the one the unbeliever says he wants, an environment without evil. So God creates that environment where He is present and where evil is not. He creates the environment where He is present and where evil and suffering are absent, by creating a quarantine for evil.
Those who accept His offer of reconciliation, Jesus, enter into the first environment where He dwells and where evil doesn’t dwell.
Those who refuse His offer of reconciliation enter into the second environment where He does not dwell, where evil is quarantined. And the unbeliever objects.
The unbeliever objects but the truth is that you’re either with God or you’re not with God. You’re either in His presence or you’re not. And God wants you to choose for yourself. As we’ve seen in previous blog posts, God is intensely interested in preserving your free will. He will never force you to be in His presence. He will never force Himself upon you. Today I read a New York Daily News article about a 26 year old American humanitarian aid worker named Kayla Mueller. She was kidnapped by ISIS. While she was held captive, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi raped her multiple times and told her he was going to marry her by force. (American Kayla Mueller was forced to marry ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi)
That’s not love, because love requires a choice.
So God says, yes, choose for yourself. You can choose the second option if you insist, but it will have to be over My dead body. The dead body of God incarnate. The dead body of Jesus Christ. That’s how much I love you. That’s how much I want you to spend eternity with Me, in the place without evil.
But still, the choice is yours, because love requires a choice.
(If you have questions, objections, or just want to say hi, I’d love to hear from you. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
[Image via James Loesch – Creative Commons]