I have a friend who is very sensitive and in the same time very sincere and principled. She is tormented by an issue regarding God’s love. She is not able to understand how God can love all the men and want their salvation when He knows that millions of people will suffer in hell. How can That One Who created the man love knowing beforehand that millions of people will suffer in hell. How can that One Who created the man love knowing that he will sin and go in hell and after him many of his offsprings? Why does God let the men who don’t find salvation to come to life?
Here are His words: `God asks love from us and if we cannot love Him we will be burnt in hell by His Love.`
And here is something more: `I go to the church and I try not to sin because I’m afraid not to be sent to hell. You must sacrifice yourself for love and for this you must struggle with selfishness and this is extremely painful.`
I cannot answer at her questions, I don’t have enough understanding or maybe love. For me this is a matter of faith. But she is very much tormented by these questions, she even cries sometimes when it is mentioned God’s love. The same issue is a stumbling stone for my mother who is faithless. Please help me if you can.
The problem of the origin and of the existence of evil has concerned and concerns many people. Let’s start with an easy example: `if two twin children were to be born to a man and he knew that one of them would become a sinner and the other one a faithful man then what would be the best: for the sake of the pious man to let the sinner be born too or because of the future sinner to not allow the birth of the pious one? God gave to the man more than we could imagine and enclose in the word salvation. He gave the man the chance to be like God. According to the word of saint Athanasios the Great: `God made Himself man so that the man may become a god.` How to conciliate the existence of evil with God’d love? For excluding the possibility of falling into sin the man should be deprived of his free will and then would disappear the possibility to be like God and the man would remain from the moral point of view a neutral object of this world. Love implies free will, that’s why it involves a risk for the man: you win or lose everything, you get or lose everything. This alternative proposed by your friend to destroy the potential sinners before they are born by God’s foreknowledge makes from freedom an apparent will and without freedom love becomes compulsoriness in a program imposed to the man. This thing represents the refuse of an individual existence reaching the Buddhist conception about dissolution.
We express our opinion about divine love in analogy with the human love. But divine love is the ontology of the divine existence. Apostle John said: `God is love ( I John 4, 8).
This love given to the world is the grace of the Holy Spirit whose reflections were lived by the saint hermits and were surprised by the divine love. God gave to the man a higher personal way of feeling creating the man as a person. By this He delimited Himself of the human freewill. He created it autonomous and doesn’t mingle by force in its territory. Thus the man would be destroyed as a person by God and would lose his individual existence.
The labors from hell for the sinner are not labors caused by love but by the loss of love that cannot be recovered by any means. Whoever says: `Why did God create if He had known beforehand? negates the dignity of image and likeness of the man with God, negates love as a free self-determination and prefers to become nothing, to be a moral nullity, meaning not to exist at all.
God’s love is a love that suffers. Saint Ignatius Theophorus called Christ the Crucified Love. This love saves the sinners of death but cannot enter the soul that is not capable to receive it.
Christ stands at the door of the man’s heart but He wants the man to open this hidden door on his own. I think that you have to explain to your friend that her own love is earthly and sinful and that’s why she doesn’t know what means divine love. If she wants to find out she must begin not with revolt but with the struggle to seek this love and live for it.
Salvation is the relationship with God and the likeness with Him. This cannot be achieved without love nor love achieved without moral freedom that includes the possibility to choose between good and evil.