If God is a God of love, why does he allow people to suffer? That’s a question I get asked frequently, especially after there has been some kind of disaster or tragic event. And it’s one of the most common objections people have to believing in God.
The question is often presented like this.
• Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is
But if God is able to prevent evil but not willing, then he is not loving.
At first sight it seems you have to compromise on either his love or his power.
However, as we think about it, it doesn’t take long to realise that we have to qualify, not compromise, what we mean by God’s qualities of omnipotence and love.
There are clearly some things that an all-powerful God cannot do. He cannot logically create a square circle, for example. He cannot logically create a world with free creatures who never choose evil, if freedom is a presupposition of our capacity to choose what is good. This remains the case even if some human beings choose wrongly. To create moral good without the possibility of moral evil is not logically possible even for an omnipotent God.
If that seems to be just an academic argument among philosophers, it is worth considering the personal nature of love, and the cost of love.
Any parent knows (and often dreads) that there will come a point when their child chooses to leave home and make their own decisions. Even if the choices turn out to be wrong, the love doesn’t stop. The parent keeps on wooing and hoping that their child will ‘come to their senses’ and return to making good decisions. Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son reminds us of what some
people refer to as the “father-heart of God”. God is not uninvolved with his world – he has committed himself to love all people, regardless of what they/we do. And for God that is costly.
This month we have the opportunity of celebrating the world-changing events of Holy Week and Easter once again, when selfishness, suffering and evil were defeated once and for all by the loving actions of Jesus Christ.
On Good Friday he carried the weight of all the world’s sin and selfishness in his own body when he died upon a cross.
On Easter Day God raised him from the dead and showed that the power of love is greater than the power of death.
Some of our worship during Holy Week and Easter will be traditional and inspiring – for example Sunday services on Palm Sunday and Easter Day. But there will also be some special less formal events:
Maundy Thursday Walk to 12 Apostles Stone Circle and Cowper’s Cross (meet at Keighley Gate at 2pm) – approx 3½ miles, on footpaths which may be muddy! Hot Cross Buns afterwards at Riddlesden Vicarage!
Messy Church on Good Friday at 10am in St Mary’s Meeting Room, Riddlesden - a great way for children and adults of all ages to take part in a range of activities that will help us understand why Jesus died on the cross.
The Cross of Christ (Music and Meditation) at 7.00pm on Good Friday at St Luke’s.
“Chocolate Special” Coffee Morning on Saturday 20th April 10.00 am to 12.00 noon, Including Children’s Easter Egg Hunt 10.30 to 11.00 and Chocolate Raffle!
Full details of all the Holy Week and Easter events can be found on the “What's on" page. I hope there really will be “something for everyone” that will inspire our worship and help us to know more of the love of God and share it with the people around us.
With best wishes for a very Happy Easter