Why does God allow what He allows? This is the question that has haunted mankind from the beginning. There have been many theories and even crazy stories made up about why God does what He does, yet it still remains a mystery.
The problem people often have with this is, if God is all powerful and can do anything He wants, why does He allow evil? (Called theodicy). I talked about this in a couple of posts last year. If you want to read them they are the following:
It’s the subject of the first post that I want to elaborate on here.
We know that the very essence of God is love, and love means freedom which requires self-limitation. Love, by nature, is other-centered and self-sacrificial. To love another, I must limit myself.
Love cannot be forced or coerced. It cannot exist without free will. You can either be “all-powerful” in a relationship…or love.
Love in relationship can only flourish between two free people who willingly limit themselves for the other. In fact, this is a hallmark of two people in love–they not only go out of their way to please the other, they trade their independence for interdependence, limiting their free time and other options for love.
When it’s all about me it’s no longer about love.
Selfishness and fear are the opposites of love.
I limit myself around other people by considering their needs, feelings, desires, by not taking over the conversation, by listening instead of waiting for my turn to talk …whenever I do these things, I show love.
I limit myself by not demonizing people I don’t agree with, by seeking to understand their heart instead.
Love makes room for another. Without creating this space, we feel swallowed up and smothered. So just like a good parent, God withdrew so that we could live and learn how to love. As it’s been said, He doesn’t hide from us, He hides for us.
When God created, He automatically limited Himself to His creation. This doesn’t mean He’s bound by His creation, or that He can’t intervene at all, but that He willingly limits His interventions because of love.
By limiting Himself for love, God takes the biggest risk of all—that the object of His affection will misunderstand His love and even hate Him because He didn’t give them what they thought they wanted. He risks that they will do things, even evil things, that are not His will or His heart at all.
God so loved us that He gave. There is no greater love than self-limiting , sacrificial love. Jesus so loved us that He became a man and subjected Himself to us, even our enmity, fear, and hatred that put Him to the cross.
Why do we place such a high value for those who give their lives for another if not because we know instinctively, innately, deeply, that this is the very essence of God’s love?
God is the Prodigal’s father (Luke 15:11-32), who waits for both sons to return His affections. He’s ever vigilant, patiently waiting, not willing that anyone be lost (2 Pet.3:9). This also means He must wait and watch while people deny Him, run away from Him, or serve Him without loving Him.
Think about it. God even limits Himself when His own people don’t actually want Him. When they want a whole host of other things…
When they would rather go to heaven, or escape this world, hell, or the Great Tribulation.
When they want religion instead of relationship, wanting social status, a successful ministry.
When they want to exercise His power and authority over demons, sickness and disease without being a conduit of His love to those so bound.
Some prefer a legal relationship with God, like that of a judge and defendant. It’s all about reward and punishment. It’s not about love.
Some just want Him to fix their mess; they just don’t really want Him.
Yes, God even demonstrates His self-limiting love by letting us busy ourselves with everything other than wanting an intimate heart connection with Him.
But even though we may forsake Him, He will never forsake us.
If we would ever but dare draw near to Him, we would see just how near He is to us.
Paul told us what God’s love looks like in us when he said…
Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…
He continues by telling us what love looked like in Jesus…
…who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Phil.2:4-8 NKJV)
Yes, this is what love looks like. It’s self-giving, other-centered, and self-limiting.
I think God allows because He is love.