God’s Unchanging Love
July 3, 2013 § Leave a comment
“God is love.” 1 John 4:16.
That’s how Ellen White begins the first book in Great Controversy series. And in my opinion, that’s the best way to begin it. Many people may forget or choose to ignore or not know that God’s motive behind everything He does is love. His love is infinite, long-suffering, and unconditional.
So why would sin be permitted? (this is also the title of the first chapter of Patriarchs and Prophets) If God is an ever-loving God who desires that no disharmony or harm come to His creation, why would He allow sin to come into the world? That’s a typical question asked by many and, I do admit, myself at times. Just seeing or hearing about all the evil that goes on in the world makes you wish that somebody or something could make it stop. And I’ve heard people saying that if they were God, they would immediately wipe out all of the evil in this world.
According to Ellen White, and also several other people that I’ve heard from sermons and Bible studies, love is the answer. When Lucifer sowed the seeds of doubt and deception in heaven, he brought discord to the normally harmonious heaven. Lucifer is the one who brought sin to our world; because of his selfishness and his desire to rise to the top solely to have everyone worship him, he brought discord to heaven and sin to Earth. Now for the angels who had never heard anything like the deceptions that Lucifer was feeding to them, they had no idea what would become of Lucifer’s rebellion. Was he right to challenge God’s authority? Would he make a better ruler than God? Had God destroyed Lucifer and his followers straight from the get-go, the other angels would not have known which way was right and doubt would forever be in their minds. So out love for the angels and for Lucifer (God, in His long-suffering love wants Lucifer and his followers to return to Him), He allows Lucifer to carry out his rule.
Well then, why for so long? For us humans, time is finite. Our average lifetime is about 70-80 years; in that timespan we experience a lot of things – birth, family, love, hate, death, friendship, pride, envy, excitement, sadness, anger, happiness, the list can go on. So of course for us, 6000-odd years is a long time to let Lucifer rule and carry out his deception. But remember, God is infinite. To Him the past, present, and future are the present to Him (the best analogy to Him being infinite that I’ve heard is reading a book). 6000+ years is nothing to God let alone 70-80. “A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” Psalm 90:4. “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” 2 Peter 3:8. To God, it’s like it was yesterday when Lucifer rebelled. And again, it is out of love that God allows Lucifer to carry out his plans. Even if with our finite minds we can’t quite perceive why, we must still trust in God and his infinite love.
Another concept covered a bit that I found interesting is that of free will. God is love, and out of love, He gives His creation free will. As Ellen White says, “God desires from all His creatures the service of love – service that springs from an appreciation of character. He takes no pleasure in a forced obedience; and to all He grants freedom of will, that they may render Him voluntary service.” (P and P, 35). Forced obedience is not of God and it’s not in His character. How can you love someone whom you obey against your will? And how can Someone whose character is based on love force his creation to obey Him? Voluntary obedience comes from love from both the ruler and the subject. In the fall of Lucifer, you see that he and the angels he deceived did indeed exercise free will. They had a choice, and they took it. Again, had God simply destroyed them immediately, He would be going against his loving nature. Letting the consequences of their choices speak out would make it clear to all of creation which way is the right way.
Again love is the basis of this great controversy: “The history of the great conflict between good and evil, from the time it first began in heaven to the final overthrow of rebellion and the total eradication of sin, is also a demonstration of God’s unchanging love” (33). Love is the backstory, the driving force, the main thing to remember. And how quickly we tend to forget.