Understanding True Love
[An excerpt from my new book]
God’s plan has always been for humans to align our will with His will; to choose what He desires for us. But because God’s nature is love, that alignment could not be forced or preprogrammed. Remember, there were two trees in the Garden of Eden; that obviously speaks of choice (see Gen. 2:9). When God desires a love relationship with us, we must have the freedom to choose or reject His love. “Forcing” someone to love another is a misunderstanding of love.
For free will to really be free, it must be irrevocable. Can God really give me free will and then step in and stop me every time I’m about to use it wrongly? In essence, God tells me, “Choose this day whom you will serve.” I say, “OK, I choose to serve satan.” God says, “No! No!” I say, “Okay, I choose to serve drugs and alcohol.” “No! No!” “OK, I choose to be selfish and serve myself.” “No! No!” I say, “I thought You said for me to choose, God?”
So you can see that the potential to go God’s way of love carries with it the potential to reject and oppose the way of love. Consequently, God chose to tolerate the evil that wrong choices have brought about! Because of love, God created a world in which His creatures can actually say no to Him; which, by the way, is what sin is. So then we have a lot of free wills making decisions in the world that are not God’s will.
God is pure love, and His will is always good, acceptable, and perfect (see Rom. 12:2). When you choose a will other than God’s, what are you choosing to enter into? The opposite of perfect love is selfishness, greed, worry, strife, jealousy, rage, hatred, chaos! Now you can see why countries, politics, workplaces, marriages, and families—the world—is so fouled up!
People, not God, must determine whether or not they will love God and others. This, of course, leaves the door open for evil. When you see an evil intent in the world, it’s the result of a will other than God’s. Things can happen that are genuinely not God’s will when free will is possible. “Free will has made evil possible. Why then did God give free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.”4
Since God wanted creatures who could choose to love Him, the opposite was always a possibility. This explains why God created a world in which evil is possible. We can also see why the world has become a war zone, and the fault goes to humans and angels for misusing their freedom of choice. Before we move on, let me reiterate the point—for love to have true meaning, it must be chosen, which introduces the possibility that it can be rejected.