You hear a lot of hypothetical, philosophical questions about the nature of God and His power. I still have memories of the smug smile that invariably followed the challenging statement: “if God is all-powerful, can he create a rock so big that He can’t move it?” As if we can create a paradox in our own mind that somehow disproves something that exists outside out mind. Sometimes it does seem like people live their lives with the attitude that if they simply can’t accept a concept, it must be false.
But my inability to get my arms around a subject doesn’t invalidate it. Otherwise, anything more advanced than Calculus 101 would cease to exist. If it were left to my abilities to study and focus in college, anyway…
So why do we get so hung up on the idea that there is evil in the world, if a purely good God did in fact create “everything”? How many times have we heard “if God were real, He never would have allowed that”. Never mind that in many of those cases, what happened was a result of something a human being decided to do to someone else. “How could God allow us to bomb each other into oblivion.”
The fact is, there are a couple of things that God actually didn’t create, and I think they help us understand a lot about what it means to have a relationship with God.
God didn’t create darkness
Do an experiment if you can. Find a closet or small room with a door. Close it, and turn out the light. Now imagine that the light creeping through the space under the door isn’t there – that you’re in complete darkness. Did you “create” that darkness? Well… Only in the sense that you removed the light. But the truth is that darkness is the “default state”. Without the light that you installed, without the exterior lights in the house, without the natural light from outside, that closet would always be dark.
In Genesis 1, God’s first act was to create light. If darkness is defined by the absence of light, wouldn’t that mean that darkness predates creation? It was not created simply because darkness was an eternal state until light was created. And the great thing about light is that once we have it, the darkness can never again truly be dark – not unless you visit Innerspace Caverns or some place like that so far under the ground that natural light simply can’t reach.
God gave light, so that darkness could never dominate us again. Not unless we physically intervene and shut out that light.
What else in the Bible has that same characteristic?
John 3:19-21 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
Constantly in the Bible, we see the concept of righteousness aligned with the concept of light. And with good reason: when God introduced light, he defined darkness forever. Who would ever have known that it was dark until light came and showed us that we were in darkness? Isn’t that how the righteousness of God works?
1 John 1:5-7 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
If we think of sin as darkness and righteousness as light, then try another experiment. Go back to that closet, make it as dark as you can, and then strike a match. Is there any part of the closet where it is both light and dark? Of course not, because they cannot exits together. Darkness is defined as the absence of light. By the same token, sin is defined by the absence of righteousness. The two cannot coexist – there is no unrighteousness in God – because righteousness is a characteristic of God. (2 Cor. 6:14)
God cannot be unrighteousness any more than I can be canine. I’m not a dog. It’s not in my nature to BE a dog. It is physically impossible for me to have the same nature as a dog – I can only imitate it in some superficial way. And as much as we talk about how “human” our pets act, they are not human, and they never will be.
So God didn’t create darkness; He created a means of escaping it. And God didn’t create evil; He showed us how we could escape evil and be righteous, and by doing so, we could live in the presence of the source of all light for eternity. (Col. 1:12-14)
So when Jesus talks about the concept of Hell as being cast into outer darkness (Matt. 25:30) away from the presence of God, we start to really understand what it means to be separated from God. It means being separated from light, separated from goodness.
But most importantly, it explains how God could “allow” someone to be condemned to a life of darkness and suffering. He doesn’t “allow” it. We simply wouldn’t have it any other way. And we spend our lives blocking out every source of God’s light, when all we have to do is open the door.