In his Jan. 2 column, Alan Cheah related that he strayed from the Catholic Church as a teen (due to perceived inconsistencies and contradictions), but because of the new direction of Pope Francis, he is now reconsidering his position.
Mid-way through his column, Alan raised what many (if not most) theologians claim is the number one objection to belief in a loving God: Why is there so much pain and suffering in the world?
As Alan put it, " why does He have to test His creation? He could have created us to be perfect, but didn't?"
Numerous Old and New Testament texts proclaim that the chief purpose of man's existence is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. It really boils down to one four letter word: love.
Love cannot exist without free will. For example, I could program my computer to present a screen image of a beautiful woman, using the words "I love you," in the most enduring, loving terms possible. Of course I would feel absolutely no love at all from this computer presentation, because I programmed it to display and say what I wanted. No love here at all.
To display His love for us and the love He seeks from us, God allows us to have free will. Not one person on this planet dies without being given the clear choice of choosing or rejecting Him (John 3:36 and 6:40), but, God does not force Himself on us. It's our choice.
God preserves and protects our ability to choose. We are not programmed to display some sort of fake love. That means that we must suffer terribly at times. As bad as that may seem in the short-run, an eternity of loving God and being loved by Him is the reward.
As Alan or anyone else considers joining or re-joining a church, it is important to remember that while churches are designed to help us worship our God who loves us, they are humanly crafted institutions and they are fallible. Finally, Jesus Christ has already paid the full price for the sins of those who submit to Him. There is absolutely no need to walk "under a cloud of fear."
Alan Graas, Oakhurst