Janet`s May 2019 Letter to the Community

In the March magazine I mentioned that, during Lent, my Sunday morning sermons would attempt to explore some of the huge questions relating to evil and suffering that were raised by members of the congregation in the autumn of 2017.  I want to share one thought from that series that it is important for us to hold on to.

As Christians we recognise that much human suffering is caused by human sin.  Is there an explanation for why God has made the world in such a way that it is possible for me to hurt other people, to make wrong choices, to fail to live a holy life?  That it is possible for some people to make decisions that catastrophically damage other people’s lives?  Why does God allow it?  If we believe in a loving God who is also all-powerful, how can this be? 

Theologians have long argued that the reason why people are allowed to make bad choices is because God created us with “free will”, the power to choose.  He gave us this power because he wanted human beings to be creatures who could choose to love, and love is only love if it is freely given.  What would it be like to live in a totally controlled world?  I suspect it would feel like a fraud – it certainly wouldn’t be human life.  But there is another fundamental question:  could God have chosen to make any other kind of world?  We talk of God being all-powerful.  Could he have made a world where human beings did not have freedom, could not know love? 

The theologian Mike Higton has helped me to see that the power of God is the power of love, and only the power of love.  It is not that God is power and has chosen love, but that God is love, and any power of God is, and can only be, the power of love.  So God gives us the freedom to choose, but he also chooses, in love, to become incarnate, to die and to rise from the dead in order to bring us new life and new hope.

This is our Easter faith.  Thanks be to God.

With every blessing,


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