Kameron, my eight year old son, has a healthy fascination for all living creatures. I have heard his mother’s alarm go off many times in years past as Kameron dragged another living discovery into our home. These have included spiders, roly polys, centipedes, baby birds and box turtles.
I came home the other day to find three small frogs in a plastic container just inside the garage door. They had grass, water and several sticks and stones to jump about on. All three of them were jumping like Mexican jumping beans, trying to escape their plastic prison.
I called for Kameron and we had a long conversation about how wild creatures don’t do well in captivity and it might be wise and merciful to release the three frogs. This idea was met with strong resistance. I decided to let the matter rest and address it later.
Another conversation regarding the release of the frogs was unnecessary. Several hours later I saw Kameron talking to his new friends and walking them to separate areas of our property. I assumed he was releasing them and I was pleased that he had decided to do the right thing without further persuasion from his father.
Later that evening I asked him about his frogs. His answer was surprising and disturbing. “I took the first frog to the end of the lot where I had decided to throw him into the burn barrel. I set the second frog in the garden where he has plenty to eat and much to make him happy. When I returned to get the third frog he had decided to hop away on his own.” Needless to say I was speechless.
While I was trying to compose a response I began to wonder why Kameron thought he had the right to take the lives of two innocent frogs. It was obvious that any compassion he might have felt for the frogs was overcome by his intoxication with the power he had over them. Because my mind tends to lean toward theology I found myself following another train of thought.
Three people come to the end of their days and are called to face their judge. They are anxious as they approach one whom they have been told is powerful and sovereign yet loving and compassionate. The first one approaches the bench to plead his cause but the judge cuts him short by making a stunning declaration,
“I conducted a lottery before I created the earth and your destiny was determined before you were even born. Your lot is to perish eternally in hell,” the judge declared.
“But if you predetermined that my destiny would be hell, then how am I responsible or accountable?” the first one asked.
“No answer to your question is forthcoming because the things you ask me of are a secret matter and will remain secret,” the Judge sternly answered.
A second person approached the bench in fear and trembling having heard the preceding interaction. But, much to his relief he was ushered into heaven by the same God who had so coldly cast off the previous person.
Finally, the third person approached the bench with strong reservations about whether he wanted to go to hell and live in eternal misery or go to heaven and live with a god who seemed to be so arbitrary, even capricious. Had he been deceived by those who had taught him about the love of God? Was the goodness of this God totally dwarfed by his greatness? He was told over and over again that “God is love.” This may be true but observing what had just happened caused the third man to believe this God not very loving. Would a loving God desiring true fellowship and relationship with his creatures not gift them with the ability to choose or reject that relationship?
The third man looked closely into the eyes of the judge in search of evidence to back the claim that “God is love”. He decided there was no love to be found or if there was any love it was so miniscule it could not be detected. The fear peeled away as he realized he was seeing an imposter. He turned around and walked away determined to search until he found the one and true God who gave his Son for ALL those who would choose Him.
It is unthinkable that “God is love” would predetermine evil. The Calvinist would believe that the love of God is defined by his greatness. The classical Arminian would believe that the power of God is clearly defined by his great love. We can do no justice to the sovereignty of God by diminishing his love. God created man to have relationship with him and to derive glory from him. Relationship is always a two way street. No relationship can exist if only one party makes all the decisions.
“God is love” indeed! He loved us so much he was willing to limit his own power to grant to us free will. Our freedom to choose is a gift from God. Why did he do this? Obviously he wanted to lay the foundation for a relationship with us. Why did he send his Son to the cross? Was it not because he wanted the relationship to last forever?