Although I have attempted to answer the question, does God exist, the Christian faith has little to do with belief in God. As James eloquently expressed, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble” (James 2:19). Belief in God is not enough. I always believed that God’s message to us, the theme throughout the Bible, is love. However, I never fully understood this truth, and I probably still do not fully comprehend this spiritual truth. If we boil it all down to one thing, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:8). If God is love and God is good, then what is evil?
God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments. Notice that all, but two, tell us what not to do.
- You shall have no other gods before Me.
- You shall make no idols.
- You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
- Keep the Sabbath day holy.
- Honor your father and your mother.
- You shall not murder.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
- You shall not covet.
Only two of the commandments tell us what to do, keep the Sabbath holy and honor your father and mother. Has anyone ever told you what not to do? What happens? Children experience this from a young age. The first thing they want to do is exactly what you just told them not to do. Why is that? Somehow, our propensity for evil is kicked up a notch. It is our pride or ego. God knows this. Because of our pride, our self-centeredness, God knew that the only way to reach us was through His love. Furthermore, He knew that the only way to show us how much He loves us and to teach us how to truly love, He would have to come down from His throne of glory and sacrifice Himself for us. He would have to die for us.
When Christ came He gave us only two commandments, love God and love your neighbor as you love yourself. From the moment when Jesus died on the cross for us, if we do not believe in God, that is equal to not loving God. Well, you may say, “Of course, I cannot love something that I do not believe exists.” That’s true, but there is another dimension to that truth. What about loving others? Can I love others? In human terms, we say, “Yes, of course!” However, those of us who do not know God, do not know His kind of love. Let me try to explain.
If we choose to reject God, our ego or self-centeredness is still focused on ourselves. Somehow, we cannot let go of issues, such as how do I feel about that, what do I want, and what will make me happy. We cannot quite come out of ourselves and make God or others a priority. I still comes first. Yes, I know! There are moments when we, of course, come out of ourselves to truly love others, but those are moments.
The Greek word for “sin,” ἁμαρτία or amartia, means “missed the mark,” used in marksmanship. For example, you miss the mark when you shoot an arrow to hit the target, but it is not a “bullseye.” You may miss the bullseye by a millimeter or by a mile. We act in love, sometimes, but often we do not. In reality, this is the definition of evil. Although this may be an oversimplification, evil is basically the lack of love. If evil is the lack of love, what fills that void? Just as there is a range on the target, evil also ranges in intensity. It begins with the love of ourselves at the expense of others and may extend to pure hatred and rage. This lack of love can be expressed in varying degrees, when we disrespect our parents, when we steal something that belongs to someone else, when we gossip about others, or when we murder someone.
When Christ said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48), He meant that we should always act in love, not just sometimes. If that is what Christ truly meant (and He did), then it would be to our benefit to repent for our sins. We should be sorry, when we do not act in love. However, we do not truly know how to always act in love because we become conflicted between what we want and what others want from us. If we love someone enough, we are willing to sacrifice our self-centeredness, our desires. But Christ asked us to always act in love, even to our enemies. Now that is difficult for us, but why should it be so difficult? Why do we not always choose to act in love? This is a complex question.
Ask yourself, what kind of person do I want to be? Do I want to be someone who always acts in love or someone who is self-centered? How much self-centeredness is permitted? Christ said “Be perfect.” Do you want to know perfect and divine love? God knows that we cannot be perfect overnight, but He is willing to teach us, if you ask Him. To find out, ask God how to love.