Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” (Romans 11:33, 34)
In recent years I’ve cut way back on writing about larger, cosmological issues related to God’s nature and purpose in creation, and my reasons are twofold. First, there is a limit as to what we can understand about God in our present condition, and so we inevitably place too much confidence in our own reasoning and speculations, going far beyond what God has chosen to reveal in Scripture and in Christ Jesus.
Second, it can be argued that there is limited value in debating about the nature of God and His purposes while our own lives are still lacking in love and personal holiness. If we can fathom all mysteries and knowledge, but have not love, we are nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:2)
Nevertheless, it is beneficial to grasp at least a broad, foundational understanding of God and His purpose in Creation, and so I’ll offer a brief, if inadequate, introduction based on what I see in Scripture.
God is the origin and essence of many virtues, partially summarized by the “fruits of the Spirit” in Paul’s letter to the Galatian church – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (5:22-23)
In contrast, there are anti-virtues that have no place in God’s kingdom, and therefore do not originate in God. Among them are sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. (19-21)
The inner attitudes and desires which prompt such behaviors are incompatible with God’s own inward nature – the essence of who He is. Of all the virtues that flow from God, it is love that overshadows and binds them all together.
- And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
- Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.
- See what great love the Father has lavished on us…
- This is love: Not that we loved God, but that he loved us…
- For God so loved the world…
The reason for God’s creating the universe, this world, and us is not to amuse or entertain Himself, as some suppose. It isn’t all just a pointless game run by an omnipotent puppet-master. The reason behind it all, is love.
Love is God’s nature. Love is God’s very essence. God is so brimming with unending, overflowing, inconceivably immense love that He is compelled to lavish it on someone or something. He does this not to fulfill some selfish need, but because God’s love is so un-selfish that His nature forces Him to give it away – that’s the nature of love.
And so in keeping with His own nature, God has created all things in order to display and pour out His love beyond Himself. God’s wisdom and power and glory are also evidenced in creation, but the crowning purpose behind it all is love. After all, what are wisdom and power and glory to God, if He has not love?
But is this world really the “best” God could do? It can be hard to understand God’s love from our present perspective, given that evil exists and is such a daily reality here on earth at the present time, but before we start attributing evil and suffering to God we ought to recall that we see now as through a darkened glass… only a shadow of what’s really going on. The one thing we can hold on to and put our faith in, knowing for sure, is that God is love.
Anything that does not originate in love is not from God, and although God can weave all things – good and evil – into the tapestry of His purpose, He will ultimately destroy all things that do not originate in Him; that do not originate in love.
The purpose of it all is love – from the physical universe to the free will which makes evil possible. How does the presence of evil serve God’s loving purpose? Well, now you’re asking me to speculate, which I have done many times in the past. I can certainly speculate on the relationship between good and evil and the necessity of free will for God’s love to be fully manifested, but it would be nothing more than speculation.
So for now, I’ll leave it at love – the reason for it all.