The fundamental thing that sets Christianity apart from all other religions is God’s loving sacrifice of dying to redeem His own creation. However, it’s easy for us to get bogged down in trying to comprehend the Story of Salvation from our human perspective. Thankfully, God has provided us with the Scriptures, preserved through time, one way or another, to aid us in understanding the “meaning of life” from a higher perspective.
This article isn’t going to be riddled with Biblical citations and verse quotes, not because they don’t exist, but because I want this to be a more conceptual piece to ponder, rather than an academic essay. What will be discussed here all has a Biblical foundation and if you read something here that isn’t aligned with your current religious views I’d simply encourage you to research it for yourself and come to your own conclusions. As always, pray for discernment in all things.
First let’s lay out the basic premise of God’s existence. God has always existed and always will exist. He is eternal. He is also the source of literally everything. In this context it’s easy to think of God as an impersonal force of nature, but He actually is a person. He thinks, He loves, He hates, He grieves. He also is one-of-a-kind. Because He is the source of everything that also means He has no peer, no natural companion outside of His own creation.
Another fundamental premise we need to establish is that God is Love and God is also unchanging. He is always the same, yesterday, today and forever. Therefore God’s Law is also unchangeable. What is God’s Law? Quite simply it is to love God and to love each other. The opposite of God’s Law? To love yourself more than God and more than others (aka: pride).
Finally, we also need to establish that God is all-knowing, omnipotent. He knows everything that will happen, and everything that could happen. This part is very tough for us to wrap our heads around, but try to imagine that you are making a free-will choice between walking through the left door or the right door. Two choices. From your frame of reference you don’t know what will happen once you go through either door. God, being omnipotent, knows not just what could happen if you go through either door, He also knows what you will choose to do.
Think of watching a video of someone doing something stupid and hurting themselves. As you watch the video of something that happened in the past, you don’t know what will happen until you see it occur. If you watch it a second time you now know what to expect because you’ve seen it before. The person in the video still had free will to make the choice that led to them hurting themselves, but because you’ve watched the video already you know what will happen when you watch it a second time. Just because you know what comes next in the video doesn’t mean that person didn’t have free will, it just means that you know the choices that they made in the past. Likewise, God knows all the choices that we will make and the consequences those choices will have – not because He’s pre-programmed us to make those choices, but because like a video, He can see all the choices we will make.
Companionship and Free Will
Since God is a person He craves companionship. All free-willed people naturally crave to share our experiences with someone else. Have you ever taken a vacation by yourself? I have, and it was a little depressing. Not because the sights I saw were depressing – quite the opposite, they were magnificent – but because I was seeing them by myself. There was no one with me to converse with about the beauty of what I was seeing. No one to admire the design of the building or discuss the historical events that took place within.
God created the entire universe, teeming with life and beauty – but without anyone else there God could only enjoy His creation by Himself. Now imagine on my solo-vacation that I built a robot companion and I programmed it to repeat my own expressions of awe at the sights I was seeing. Would that robot companion actually satisfy my desire to share my experience with another person? Of course not! Likewise, God could have created beings without free will, without the ability to think and act independently, but in that case our interactions with God would’ve been empty – vain mimicking of a perfect Creator without the freedom of choice.
The key ingredient to a true companion is free will. God had to give us the ability to make independent choices in order for us to truly converse with Him in a meaningful and satisfying way. With free will, God could show us the beauty of His creation and know that our response was genuine, not pre-programmed. Through this kind of companionship we could form a loving relationship with God, truly appreciating all He has done and all that He will do. Through the gift of free will we could choose to love God… or not…
Having a loving companion to share wonderful experiences with sounds great, right? But what if that free-willed companion doesn’t share the same opinion as you? What if they totally disagree with you? What if they decide that they hate you?? That was the risk God had to take in order to have genuine companionship with His creation.
We know that God first created the “angels”. Ditch the image you have in your head of feathery-winged guys in white robes floating around the clouds. Imagine instead a race of human-looking people, possibly living on different planets around the universe. These “angels” are our elder siblings in the story of Salvation.
We also know that at some point after God created our elder siblings, one of them decided to rebel against God. The reason? Pride. Lucifer (for lack of a better name) decided to love himself more than he loved God. He decided to become proud of himself and thus he broke God’s Law. Lucifer introduced the concept of “sin” into the universe and it started to spread amongst our other elder siblings, like a disease.
A Cosmic Plague
Sin is a disease that separates us from God where we choose to not be companions with God. If left unchecked, sin would eventually infect all of God’s created, free-will beings and God would once again be without a companion – He would be alone and He would grieve the loss of His children who decided to hate Him instead of love Him.
Now, as we previously established, God is all-knowing, so Lucifer’s decision to sin and spread sin didn’t take God by surprise. This begs the question: “If God knew Lucifer was going to sin why did He create Him in the first place?” This is a question that’s been debated and pondered for centuries. The best understanding I have to the answer is: “If you knew your own children would grow up and someday do something really hurtful to you, would you decide to never have that child in the first place?” That’s something each of us would have to answer for ourselves, but as a parent myself I think most people who love their kids would still choose to have that child, even if they knew the hurt that child might someday inflict on us as parents.
So now we’re left pondering a really tough situation: an all-knowing God has created free-will companions because He wants to have a loving relationship with them, but some of them use that free will to reject God’s love and rebel against Him, spreading a deadly plague of sin across the entire universe, causing unimaginable pain and grief. What is God supposed to do?
The Hard Choice
To understand the meaning of life from God’s perspective we have to now consider that God knew that no matter what He did, by giving His created companions free will they would inevitably choose to sin. So God’s left with a hard choice: either give His creation free will and watch some of them suffer, or forgo companionship for all eternity. If you had to choose between living with some imperfect people temporarily or being alone forever what would you do?
I can’t blame God for choosing to give us free will even though He knew we’d eventually make bad choices and hurt ourselves. But just like any parent, God wasn’t going to just sit back and watch His children kill themselves with poor choices. Remember, God knows all the choices we will ever make and all the choices we could ever make. We can’t even fathom the different “timelines” that God is able to see based on every single choice every single person has ever, and will ever make. It’s absolutely mind-boggling!
Bear with me through this mind-bogglingness and hopefully you’ll see the big picture more clearly. Let’s assume God can “see” all the different timelines. Not just of the choices free will people make (angels and humans alike) but also He can see the impact His own actions in our lives will have on the spread of the sin plague.
Once God decided that He didn’t want to be alone forever He is now left with the task of damage control. Not because He messed up or did anything wrong, but because He gave us free will and we screwed up. After Lucifer sinned and started the sin plague, God could see all the different ways He could minimize the damage that sin caused.
I believe that God’s ultimate endgame is to have as many loving companions as possible and to minimize the number of companions that will be lost to rebellion. This is rough to comprehend, but if you think about every little decision that everyone makes and put it into the context of whether that decision will lead to more or less people choosing to love God and live forever with Him, suddenly it changes the way we view hardships in this world.
If God can see the end result of every choice, every action, then He is able to make informed choices about what He allows to happen in our lives, even if we don’t understand or appreciate the consequences from our narrow perspective. For example, here’s a tough case to swallow: a child develops terminal cancer and is dying. The parents pray, pleading with God to heal their child. It is of course within God’s power to answer the parents’ prayers and heal their child, but what if God sees that doing so would cause millions of other people to reject God and be forever separated? On the other hand, what if by letting that child pass away from cancer, this leads to millions of people being saved and living forever with God and with each other in eternal happiness, including that child?
Humanity: Antidote to the Sin Disease
After Lucifer chose to sin God created humanity, not just to be companions in His creation, but to serve as the ultimate antidote to the disease of sin. We have been chosen by God to demonstrate to the universe that God’s Law is just and that living selfishly leads to death. The cumulative experiences of humanity throughout all of Earth’s history will be evidence against Lucifer’s baseless accusations. Through our mortal lives on this planet we’ll show the universe that God’s Law to love Him and to love each other is the right and only way, and that living selfishly is wrong.
Once our time on this fallen world is finished and Jesus returns, our memories and experiences will forever be used as a reminder of why sin is wrong and the dire consequences that it entails. Just imagine, in a universe after the Earth is made perfect, and all the saints are resurrected to live eternally, humans in the Kingdom of Heaven will be responsible for sharing our personal experiences with God’s other created beings. The worse our suffering in this brief life, the stronger our testimony against sin will be in the eternal afterlife. If any of God’s other created beings ever consider sinning at some point in the future, someone from humanity can be “dispatched” as a witness to quell any sinful ideation. In the eternal Kingdom of Heaven our suffering on Earth will become the ultimate antidote against the disease of sin!
The worse our suffering in this brief life, the stronger our testimony against sin will be in the eternal afterlife.
A New Perspective
We think about things from a very limited perspective. We see suffering in our own lives or in the lives of people we love and we ask how a loving God could let suffering happen. What we often fail to grasp is that there is a lot more going on in the universe than our narrow perspective allows us to see. If our suffering, or the suffering of our loved ones in this life will lead millions (or more) to eternal life, then the Kingdom of God is advanced despite our temporary suffering. In a perfect world the child would never get cancer in the first place and no one would ever suffer. Unfortunately we live in a corrupted world that is currently in the middle of a sin plague and therefore death and suffering is a terrible consequence.
The good news is that God is actively working to stop this sin plague before it destroys all creation. He’s putting us on the optimal path that He knows will minimize our suffering while maximizing the number of souls who will be saved. Moreover, God has to contend with rebellious creatures (Lucifer and his cohorts) who are actively trying to spread the plague of sin throughout the universe. It’s difficult for us to accept some of the events we see happening in the midst of this plague, but we need to trust God’s plan and know that He can see how this all ends and that He is actively working to ensure that as few of His precious children are lost to this terrible plague. In the end, the survivors of this plague will once again live in loving companionship with God and with each other in a sinless universe, for eternity!
Portrayal in Media
So I’ve actually been sitting on this article for about two weeks now, waiting to publish it. The Holy Spirit inspired me to write everything above in late January 2023 and normally I just publish the post as soon as I finish proof-reading it, but in this case, even after proof-reading I felt the Holy Spirit telling me to wait, although I was unsure exactly why. It wasn’t until last night that I realized the reason.
Over the past couple years there’s been a new TV show called The Chosen that is a very well-produced show that portrays the life of Jesus. It’s not without its flaws and it does take some creative licenses in order to tell a compelling story. Essentially they fill-in some gaps with narratives and storylines that aren’t strictly from the Biblical texts, but they weave them into the actual events recorded in the Bible. Last night The Chosen released the eighth and final episode of season 3, and there’s a storyline that is extremely relevant to this article. I believe this is the reason I was told to hold-off publishing this article until after the season finale.
In the episodes leading up to the season 3 finale of The Chosen we find out that Simon (Peter) and his wife Eden lost their first child in a miscarriage. They both are extremely distraught over the loss of their unborn child and Simon in particular becomes angry with Jesus. Simon’s watched Jesus healing total strangers for months, but He still let Simon and Eden lose their child. It doesn’t make sense to Simon and he lashes out at Jesus while walking on the water:
Jesus: “Do you still have faith?”The Chosen, Season 3, Episode 8 “Sustenance” (01:08:30)
Simon: “Faith hasn’t been my problem. I gave up everything to follow You, but You’re healing total strangers!”
Jesus: “Why do you think I allow trials?
Simon: “I don’t know!”
Jesus: “Because they prove the genuineness of your faith. They strengthen you! This is strengthening you! And Eden. Keep your eyes on Me.”
Although the storyline in The Chosen about Simon and his wife having a miscarriage is fictional, the portrayal in the series is beautifully crafted to convey the truth about suffering and trials, even for the most devout followers of Christ. Not only do our own trials strength us and prove the genuineness of our faith, they are an opportunity for those around us to witness our faith in Christ. As difficult as it may be to accept during our darkest hour, the trials God gives us may be the only way to effectively share the Gospel message to others. Even though it’s not always evident to us at the time, how we deal with our trials and tribulations may be leading countless others to their own faith in Jesus. Stay strong and trust that He always knows what He is doing, and that His plan for us is perfect, even if we can’t grasp how our suffering fits into the bigger picture.