Monday, April 21, 2008


God is not fair...

Isn't that wonderful? A friend of mine and I were talking through the night and through much of the early morning on Saturday night and one thing that she said repeatedly to me was... "I can't believe that there is a good God who allows so much suffering to happen. It doesn't seem fair" (all quotes are paraphrased as it is sometimes difficult to remember what was said in the early hours of the morning) And it isn't.

It isn't fair that some people starve while others gouge themselves on food.
It isn't fair that some people must beg for money while others have it thrown at them for hitting a ball or playing a role in a movie.
It isn't fair that some people are born into countries where corruption, disease, and hunger are rampant while others are born in countries where justice, healthcare, and provisions are plentiful.
These things aren't fair.

It also isn't fair that each of us can make mistakes, some big and some small, everyday and be forgiven of them.
It isn't fair that we, who can only do good as a reflection of Him who is good, should get credit for making a difference.
It isn't fair that someone else had to make a sacrifice so that we might be free.

There is a lot that isn't fair. I agree with her. But, God gave us freedom. He gave us an amazing gift in that we can choose. We have a choice. My friend, who doesn't believe in God, is as free to make that choice as I am to give my life into His hands. In giving people the ability to choose God took away fairness. People can make good choices, which positively impact themselves and those around them. But people can also make bad choices, which hurt not only themselves but God knows how many other people.

My friend responded to this by asking, "Why? God could have made a world in which there was no bad. A paradise where every choice given to people was between one good option and another good option. Why couldn't God do this?"

I don't know. I guess because then there wouldn't be any good options. In order for there to be good there must also be bad. If there is no bad, logically, there can't be good. It wouldn't make sense. Not that things need to make sense. But where would the good be in a choice if it wasn't really an alternative? If the only thing that a person could do was something good, then they aren't really doing good. They are doing what they can do. Which means there is no choice, which means that God wouldn't have given us such a gift.

My friend brought up that "Heaven", which the two of us have talked about, "is that sort of place, why couldn't He have skipped the Earth part with all the suffering and just have created Heaven?"

Again, I don't know. I guess he could have skipped the Earth and suffering part. I feel relatively sure that God doesn't gain any pleasure from our suffering. But I'm not sure all the suffering was really part of the plan.

Somehow we then got into a discussion about 'God's laws'. And after fumbling through things for a few minutes I finally realized that we actually do know God's laws. Love God. Love your neighbor. Everything, from any religion I've heard about, pretty much boils down to these two laws.

To which God, through my friend, put me on the spot like few times that I can remember. My friend looks at me, at something like three in the morning and says, "That sounds a lot like a human king. Why does God need us to love him? Isn't that just being boastful or proud?"... I can hear my own voice echoing through this question as this is something I've dwelt on for years. Why does God need us to love him? What is God trying to show by requiring that his creations love him first and above everything else? An excellent question.

It took me a few minutes. Or maybe it took me a few years as I have actually been pondering this for a while. Why does God require our love? And then God showed me...

"He doesn't need our love." And really it's as simple as that. God isn't being boastful or prideful because it isn't something he needs for him.

"He doesn't need our love. But it is kind of like this. I love my family. I really do. There have been hard times. There were times when I was so angry at my family. They infuriated me. There were times when they disappointed me. There have been times when they have made me sad, or hurt me, or confused me to the point that I didn't know which way I was headed. But, because of my love for them I kept coming back to them. I kept giving them chances. I opened myself up to finding out why they made certain choices that impacted my life. And there were times in life it was only through the love that I had for them that I didn't just throw my hands up in frustration and walk away from the whole crazy lot of them. Only love."

"Now a lot of that could be said for my relationship with God too. There are times when I've been mad at God, frustrated when my life went down a different pathway than I would have chosen, sad about things that only God could have changed, confused about what His plan for me is, hurt when prayers weren't answered in my time or to my preference. And while I can physically see my family, I can touch them, I can hear their reasoning, I can talk things out with them, I can't really do that with God. I see him in a sunset but that doesn't show me a face that is hurt when I'm mad. I can hear him in the songs of children but that doesn't give me an explaination for why my plan didn't go accordingly. I can talk to Him, and do quite often, but it gets difficult to wait for answers from a God that I must have faith in because he isn't tangible. But God has given me a way to deal with all these emotions. He says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind". He tells us this not for Himself, but for us. Because when we love Him we are more apt to let go of our anger and come back to Him for an explanation. When we love Him we are more understanding when our life takes unexpected turns. When we love him our confusion doesn't matter anymore because we know that our life lays in the hands of one who is so powerful and so all-encompassingly GOOD that we need only sit back and enjoy the gift of life that we have been given. Our love for God is really another great gift that God has given us to help us remain faithful to Him."

As the two of us sat upon the rocks, meters from the lapping ocean waves, and staring up into the brilliant full moon that shown down upon us we both realized that for the first time the law, Love the Lord your God, was actually a gift from a benevolent ruler. I don't know if my friend is any closer to being able to know God, but I think he gave both of us something to think about, and maybe, "by God and power", as the Krio saying here goes, a seed was planted that night.


Jessica said...

That was a beautiful post, Justin.

There's a song with the line, "The beauty of grace is that it makes life unfair." What you said reminded me of that.

I loved what you said about choice and God not needing our love. Powerful stuff. He's amazing, isn't He?

Sandra's Latest... said...

great post - food for thought for sure.

just so happened rankin talked a little about this in his sermon last week sunday...about why God needs/wants us to love Him, etc. Interesting.

hope all is well.