God does not will evil, but does he will that we encounter evil?


Question: God does not will evil, but does he will that we encounter evil?

Response: Yes, I think so. Evil is that which God does not will, yet he wills for us to know what he does not will (all human language is a challenge at this point). However, every parent has a good idea of what I’m saying. If I said to you as a young parent, “Would you like me to protect your child from all evil, such that they will never be picked on at school, never be chosen last in gym class, never skin their knees, or shed tears because they felt forsaken and miss-understood?” would you answer “yes” or “no.” If you’re like me you would initially want to answer: “Yes, of course I don’t will any of those things to happen to my child, for whom I would gladly die.” But then, having thought for a moment, I’d say “No. Absolutely not!” If my child never gets picked on at school, never is chosen last in gym class, never skins his or her knees, never feels forsaken or misunderstood, then they will never learn compassion, forgiveness, mercy, grace, or love. They will remain alone and trapped in their own ego. If my child never encounters evil, they will never choose the Good in freedom. My child will never learn to love.”

Before the fall God said, “It is not good that the Adam (humanity) is alone.” Humanity was in the presence of God who is Love, but couldn’t recognize Love, and so we couldn’t find our helper, who is God. Of course, God knew that we still needed to learn of his Love and so he planted a tree in the middle of the garden and allowed an evil talking snake to enter. He was beginning to tell the story of our redemption, in order to make us in his image, in order that we would learn to love in freedom.

Jesus is the eschatos Adam and humanity is his bride. Through the story of sin and redemption, God is teaching us to love, by giving us his very heart. I believe it’s Jesus that hangs on the tree in the garden – to take his life is evil, but to receive his life as a gift of grace, is knowledge of the good (The Life is the Good); it’s how we learn to love LOVE. God is Love. To receive his Love is to be known by the Good and that’s Life. The cross is a tree of knowledge of Good and evil. And the cross is the Tree of Life. At the cross, we must all die and rise with Christ. He is the door to God’s Sabbath Rest when “everything is good,” and “It is finished.” In other words, “God consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.” (Romans 11:32) This is how we learn to love Love and become the image and likeness of God.

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