*Pastor’s Note: This is a continuation of the lesson we started on November 11th, twenty years and two months after the tragic events of what has become known as the 9/11 attacks. The whole point is to look at where we have come from then and where we are now and answer the often asked question as to why a loving God would or could allow what happened then and why allow what is happening all around us even now.
We continue to answer that question.
In the last lesson we did talk a lot about prophecy and prophetic words and the danger in relying upon them WITHOUT a firm and solid foundation which can be and is found in the written Word of God, the Bible.
We left off with the thought of how the natural, unredeemed soul could not ever comprehend the Nature and Character of God Almighty and thus will always grasp at that question why. However, if you are a born-again, believing, Christ-following Christian, there are answers that you can give to those who are still asking the “why” question.
Let’s begin by laying some familiar foundation:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” – Genesis 1:1.
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” – Genesis 1:26-27.
“Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” – Genesis 1:31.
Now these verses show us, who follow after Him that He created mankind with a purpose. Whether you believe it or not, it is clear God, the Creator had a plan. Now, to one of my favorite books, or letters, in the Bible:
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” – 1 John 4:7-8.
The Apostle John is clearly speaking to followers of Christ Jesus, and here he is reminding us that God is not just a God of love, He IS love! Love is not just a character trait or part of His nature, it is wholly what He IS. He is the great I AM, and the great I AM is LOVE!
Thus, it stands to reason that if God created us in His likeness and image, He created us to be LIKE Him, to be able to BE love, at least in His likeness. He IS love, He created us in His image and likeness, thus we are created to be love. That isn’t a far leap of logic to come to that conclusion.
We were meant to love Him AND others, one another, and to be loved by Him. Just as parents choose to conceive children to show forth their love, so the Father created us to demonstrate His love. If any of you are parents with children, you know that there was something inside of you that yearned to break forth, and you realized the depth of what it was when your first child was born. Here was someone before you that you could nurture and cherish and lavish all your love unto. The child never asked to come into the world, you chose its future, fueled by the love that you needed to express. Remember, this is coming from people who are far from perfect in love! Remember also though, we were made in the “image” of God. If God is love, we were made to be love, as well, along with many other Godly characteristics. Think about it, if you haven’t already.
Okay, here’s the crux of the whole thing; what went so wrong? The answer in a nutshell is, hold on –
That’s right, your ability to choose, which is another Godly characteristic. God in His perfect wisdom, created us in His likeness, with some of His characteristic nature, not just with the ability to love, but since we are predominately spiritual creatures, love was in our nature, in our DNA, as it were, and along with that came choice, the freedom and ability to choose. Think about it before rushing on. A created being cannot have real, true love, without also having the ability to choose to love.
Unlike how the world system has relegated love, it is not nor ever was a FEELING. Yes there ARE emotions when love is demonstrated, another characteristic of our Creator, but that is not what love IS. Love is action. It cannot be real love unless it is something you do for others and do unselfishly. Anything else is motivated and controlled by feelings and NOT the spiritual likeness of God that is within us.
We may not be able to choose to FEEL a certain way, but we most definitely have the ability and power to ACT certain ways. Actions are all within our scope of abilities. That is why actual LOVE is based not on how you feel which you can’t always control, but upon your actions which are always within your ability to control. You have the ability and the power to choose to act in a loving, unselfish way, or you can choose to act in a selfish, evil and wicked way. God GAVE you that ability to choose. The power to act is yours, but the power to act in the right way, is not always prevalent OR strong in mankind as we see around us.
Here’s another point to ponder. Since love is an action, it is demonstrated and thus easily seen. You can talk “love” all you want, but for instance, a young child will pick up very quickly what they SEE before understanding fully what they hear. In other words, that old cliché that “actions speak louder than words,” is all so very true and it is evident in how our children learn depending on how intent they are in watching us and our examples! They learn very early on they have a choice in what they can do. I have a great-grandson that’s a little bit over a year old now and I can see it in him! It brings back memories of my two sons and my grandchildren. They learn very quickly by what they see.
Without our ability to choose what we WILL do moving forward in life, we would be no more than mere robots, programmed to do the bidding of someone or something else. It is that very freedom, and it is a liberty in truth, that allows us to love as God, our Creator does, or to do whatever it is that we want to do regardless of the consequences.
Now don’t imagine for one moment that this was a mistake on God’s part. No way, no how. But here’s where the natural man, with no discerning spiritual understanding stumbles and often falls. “If only God would prevent bad things from happening!” How would He do that without taking away mankind’s ability to choose which direction he will go? How then would mankind even be able to choose a direction that demonstrates actual love and compassion for others? Taking away a person’s ability to choose, leaves absolutely no room to love as God loves. It could never be unselfish and thus it could never truly be love.
You HAVE to remember God’s nature and characteristics. He IS All-Knowing, Omniscient. He truly knows all. There is nothing that can or ever will take Him by surprise. Thus when He created us, He truly KNEW us before the foundations of the world! (Jeremiah 1:5, Ephesians 1:4). He knew ahead of time who would choose Him over themselves and who they are who will reject Him. That doesn’t change His ability to love His creation despite what they choose and that is why love is what it is and that is why God IS love! Love cannot be separated from the very being of God for it is a part of Who He Is!
Now it may seem I’ve strayed from the point of the lesson but in truth I haven’t. From the first time that man and woman chose to follow their own path rather than God’s perfect path for them, man has had to deal with his own consequences. Man chose his own path and it all started with a question, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” – Genesis 3:1.
It is not as if this question is even harmful in and of itself for God did indeed say it. But it turned the woman’s heart into questioning God’s motivations; in essence questioning His love for them. It planted DOUBT within their minds! They were given everything, they were protected, cared for, they even WALKED daily with the Almighty, yet they, without asking Him, questioned His motivations and thus doubted. As an aside, can you see why doubt is so dangerous to mankind and faith is not just so powerful, but has the power to PLEASE our Creator?!
And that dear readers, has been mankind’s curse ever since! When we don’t have a relationship with Him as Father; when we start to assume or surmise something without going directly to Him or when we cease in trusting His motivations and start to DOUBT, then it is easy to ask the question “Why would or how could, a loving God allow something like this, or anything else bad, to happen?”
Those questions are asked without any understanding of the Father’s Nature or Character, because there is no relationship with Him. Here’s what the Apostle Paul wrote; “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” – 1 Corinthians 2:14. It’s been said there are “no foolish questions,” but I’m here to tell you that only applies if you have no knowledge. It’s not a shame or a crime to be ignorant of something. Ignorance is simply a lack of knowledge or education in a certain area. Stupidity or more aptly, foolishness is not based on lack of knowledge, but rather on rejecting knowledge and/or truth.
We truly live at a time in history when all of the knowledge acquired over the past is literally at our fingertips. Yet the truth is often rejected for blatant foolishness and mankind in general is rejecting outright, the lessons we have or should have learned from the past! Choice! It comes down to our ability and willingness to choose. We HAVE the ability to choose, now it’s all about our willingness to choose wisely.
God, as our Creator AND as our Heavenly Father will not force us to choose wisely. He will make suggestions and show those who are truly searching the right path to take, but He will NOT force it upon anyone. However, understand this if you understand nothing else at all; because He will HONOR your choice and choices, you WILL face what ever consequences are resultant form those choices, both now in the present and into the future. THAT is how much He truly loves His creation! He will NOT stop loving you depending upon your choices. You can rest assured that even if you reject Him, His love for you is steadfast, but understand this about His love; if you reject Him, He will NOT force His love on you, but will honor your choice to reject Him even into eternity. That is a concept of love that is very rarely taught and very hard to understand unless you put some serious thought into it.
Even if you choose utter outer darkness, no light, no ability to sense even the slightest hint of love or anything that stems from it, He will honor your choice and though He will continue to love you as His creation, He will respect your choice and withdraw His presence from you in eternity. Again, the choice is and was always yours!
We live in a world that will only get worse. In regards to God’s love, He has given mankind ample warning and He has shown us it is because of human nature and mankind’s ability to choose his own direction. God in His ability to know all, has told us ahead of time what mankind’s general choices will be and because of His love, will allow mankind to follow the course of his own choosing rather than the course of God’s choosing. BUT, those that DO choose to accept His love and His ways will be spared from the final wrath that He has forewarned as a way of justice. You might ask “how does that line up with a loving God.”
Simple, you can’t have love, true unselfish, Godly love without another characteristic of God’s nature, justice. Otherwise, He would be a partial God, a God of discrimination and He is not. That is why He made a way out for mankind in the Person of His Son, Christ Jesus. Jesus already paid the debt of ALL sin, past, present and future. But you have to accept that offering. If you reject it, again, God will honor that and leave you to the consequences, whereas those who have accepted the offer will be spared from the consequences because of their debt having been paid.
Believe it or not, the reason bad things happen, is because of God’s love. His love allows man their freedom to choose their own direction and because of that it is obvious in the world around us just what those choices are. Now those who have accepted God and His will for their individual lives, grow in strength and the ability to love because God, in His love, will take every bad, good and even indifferent thing in our lives and turn it around for our good and His glory. A God of love can and does do that!
If you have surrendered your will, by choice, to the Father’s will for your life, no matter what goes on around us or happens to us, we have this assurance:
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28.
Do I dare say it in ending? I will; NOW THAT’S LOVE!!