These are the last reflections I’ll share in the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy. I had been thinking, first, about God’s participation in our suffering through Christ. This, in turn, necessitates the suffering of the people of God, so we who claim Christ must also enter into the suffering of the world.
Today, I want to turn my attention to evil, why it’s here, and the solution to evil in our world. … In 500 words.
It simply won’t do to say about evil that God allows it for some unknown higher purpose and still call that “good.” It doesn’t matter how you slice it; when you take that approach, God never comes out looking good or holy, and He certainly never comes out looking like Jesus.
I believer we must say that the choices of every created being must be their own. If we are to also say that every human being is created in the image of God (Gen 1:27), then we must also say that the Lord places infinite value on each life. He did, after all, go to great lengths to save each life. That means that we, along with the Creator, must abhor evil events like the shooting at Sandy Hook a week ago. We must also say, though it may sound strange, that God cannot and will not overpower even the wicked choices of someone like Adam Lanza.
(Among the reasons we must say this is that God cannot elicit love from His creation, nor can He enter into a covenant with His people, if the created beings are not able to say both “Yes” and “No” to His ways. The possibility for both must exist.)
Still, something must be done about evil. God cannot be just if He does not do anything about the evil that His representatives (for those are what beings created in His image are) do. He would not be a righteous King if He did not seek a solution to evil in His creation.
God’s plan for overcoming evil in the world has always been to defeat sin and death through the death and resurrection of Christ. But Christ died and rose again two thousand years ago and evil still exists. The solution since Jesus’ resurrection, as I understand it, has been to fill the people of God with His Spirit so that the people of God would freely say “Yes” to the Lord’s plans at all times and in all places. So while human beings by necessity must be free to choose good or evil, God’s plan has been to so fill people with the Holy Spirit, to so enthrall them with His goodness and love, that they freely and happily choose good.
The free evil choices made by some, then, would be met with the freely made choices of sacrificial love by the Spirit-filled people of God. While someone like Adam Lanza may have the freedom to choose death, the Body of Christ, likewise, has the freedom to choose to respond in love, in good deeds, in prayerful concern, in generosity, with hope, with patience, and so on.
The solution to evil for all time was Christ. The solution to evil in our time is we who claim Christ.