YellowSnow’s recent foray into theology has inspired me to post a question that’s been on my mind pretty much since I got here. Unfortunately, it’s not something I can offer an answer to just yet; at least, not one that satisfies me.
Why did God create this world at all? If He’s going to re-create the world in such a way that there will be no more tears, then why didn’t He just create it that way in the first place? My first instinct is that this world prepares us in some way for heaven, but that can’t be right. Each person’s experience is so different: some people never make it out of their mother’s womb alive, some people are surrounded by all that’s worst about this world, some surrounded by all that’s best. Since coming here I’ve seen people who live in such abject poverty that they can’t afford to wash their hair. I’ve seen slums that are, relatively speaking, well off – because the tents there are waterproof. And yet I grew up in such a different world. I don’t know what hunger is. I don’t know what it is to really have to work.
What I’m trying to say is: if this is some sort of preparation for heaven, why don’t we all get the same training?
Okay, so I guess the classic response to all that is: we brought this suffering on ourselves, in some collective sense, through sin. In heaven there will be no sin, and therefore no suffering. Well what will be different about heaven that will prevent sin, and why didn’t God just make this like that in the first place? We’ll still have free will, right?
Is the difference that we’ll be in God’s immediate presence, and that will prevent us from sinning? If so, then why did He go “walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Gen 3:8), so that Adam and Eve were able to hide from Him? If the answer to that is that He didn’t want to impede their free will, then I have to ask, will our free will not be complete in heaven?
I guess when it comes down to it, what I’m struggling with is related to predestination. If we are not palpably in the presence of God, can we really choose between spending eternity with Him, and spending eternity without Him? If we had experienced His immediate presence, would we choose anything else?
The idea that we as individuals have no part in whether we go to heaven or hell, that God made us to go to one or the other, doesn’t fit with my understanding of God. Our God “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim 2:4). So the decision is, at least in some way, ours. But then, how can we make an informed decision about him in this life?
Why should this whole continent be so steeped in idolatry, so that so very few people even know who Jesus is? Are the people here able to make an informed decision between Jesus and they idols they grew up with? And are people in “the west” any better off? They’ve heard the stories, but how many of them have met God? Does hearing a distorted view of the Gospel count as hearing the Gospel? Had I ever really heard the Gospel before I understood it and accepted it?
Answers on a postcard to the usual address.