One of the more difficult questions we face as believers focuses on the creation of evil. It’s a natural stumbling block since we’re told that God is pure good but simultaneously told that He created everything in the universe. That would mean evil desires and temptations were created by Him as well, right? But how is He pure good if He created evil? Is God not as good and loving as we make Him out to be?
There it is. I just ruined the entire Christian faith in a single paragraph.
I firmly believe we should be able to ask tough questions about our faith. That’s not to say we should be able to understand God, but if something like this question about evil is threatening our faith, the worst thing to do is try to forget about it. God is not some concept that has a bunch of theoretical holes in it– that we should avoid thinking deeply about.
The problem with this perspective about evil is that it uses an incorrect definition of the word. It isn’t actually a “thing” at all– it’s a lack of something. Confused? It helps to look at the concept of lightness and darkness. We might think of darkness as it’s own subject that can be measured and defined separately from light. But in reality, darkness is defined by the absence of light. They are genuine opposites: abundance of light (brightness) versus the absence of light (darkness). But it’s still all about light.
Good and evil operate with the same style as light and dark. Evil is a measurement that represents the lack of good. It’s just as accurate to say “good” and “not good” as it is to say “good” and “evil.” With that understanding, to say that God, who is entirely good, “created evil” is more like saying God created the option for His creation to choose or not choose Him.
“Of God” or “Not of God.”
When I think of it this way, evil isn’t so threatening to my faith anymore. In fact, it makes sense that God would give us the ability to choose Him in obedience because without that choice, our lives would not be true worship. Jesus said in John 4 that worship is a voluntary position of the heart, just like faith, meaning that life isn’t just an enormous puppet show that God is entertaining Himself with.
“Evil” is simply a desire that God is not consulted on, or a result that God was not a part of. It’s a measurement of His absence. And the awesomely redemptive idea to remember is that God can use even the most evil desires and outcomes for good once He is invited into the situation. He truly is good.
If your mind was blown by that, you might also like this other common misconception of opposites. Love and hate are actually more similar than we first think, and definitely not opposites. Both are measurements of passion and represent the idea of caring deeply about something. The opposite of love would need to represent the lack of those passionate, deep feelings for something. This is actually best described by apathy, which is depressing considering that the greatest commandment for us is to love God… and yet apathy toward God– the lack of deep-rooted passion and reverence– is one of the things our culture is known for.