Christians believe that God is both loving and all-powerful, yet churches are closed on Easter by coronavirus.
It’s a quarantine-inspired spin on an age-old question: Why does God allow evil and pain? Granted: Pastors choosing to move their services online is more of an inconvenience than wickedness. The government closing down churches is another matter.
It’s hard to go through life and not experience a more personal version of this question. Why does God allow a parent or child to die? On a larger scale, slavery, sex trafficking and genocide are grievous evils that have brutalized hundreds of millions.
Easter is the perfect time to address why Christians believe in loving an all-powerful God when such evil and pain exists.
It’s important to recognize that without a higher power, the concept of evil doesn’t make logical sense. If the universe is a giant accident — coming from nothing and no one — there’s no outside standard against which to measure human behavior. If the physical world is all that exists, what people label as evil is an emotional response built by natural selection or shaped by societal expectations.
That’s not satisfying. Certain things — chattel slavery, killing 1-year-olds for fun — are evil. How can God let it happen?
While God is all-powerful, he gave human beings free will. He created a world without death and destruction, but Adam and Eve, the first humans, chose to sin. That separated mankind from God and brought evil and death into the world. Adam and Eve may have sinned, but why would a loving God give human beings a choice knowing they’d mess up?
Let me use a parenting analogy. I have a 3-year-old. He’s great, but occasionally he hits his brother or throws a toy. As the parent, I could prevent him from hurting anyone by locking him in a padded room and slipping him food and water. That’s not a workable solution. In preventing him from hurting others, I’d be depriving him of his potential as a human being and his relationship with me as his parent. That’s similar to why God created human beings with free will. You can’t have a meaningful relationship with a robot.
You could think this makes God look even worse — he’s just standing by while all this happens. This why Christians love Easter so much. God the Father sent his son, Jesus, into the world.
Jesus, fully God and fully man, lived a perfect life. Then he was falsely accused and nailed to a cross.
Don’t miss this, because you know the end of the story. The Son of God hung on an ancient torture device and died in an unbelievable brutally manner. Jesus even cried out that God had forsaken him.
That Friday was a dark, hopeless-looking day.
Yet, it was God’s plan. God the Father poured out on Jesus the punishment that you and I deserve for our sins. On Easter Sunday, God raised him from the dead as a sign he accepted Jesus’ sacrifice. You and I can have a relationship with God, both now and eternally, by believing in what Jesus did and confessing him as Lord.
Even before coronavirus, there was a lot of pain in the world. Easter is a not a reminder that God is a genie who will give health and wealth in this life. Easter is a celebration that God both loves you and is powerful enough to have created a way for you to have a relationship with him both now and forevermore in heaven.
— Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact him at email@example.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.