In light of the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida, I thought it was a good time to post a transcript of Dr. Ravi Zacharias’ response to an atheist playing devil’s advocate. It seems fitting. I was first impacted by this message in January and even mentioned it on a few Shulamite Podcasts. I invite you to go listen to those podcast episodes, as well as click on the link I provided below if you wish to hear Ravi after reading.
The Ethic of Love in the Face of Evil
Dr. Ravi Zacharias: Why didn’t God keep that man from pulling the trigger rather than allowing the man to pull the trigger and then watch over him and bringing about some kind of judgment?
The supreme ethic that God has given to us is the ethic of love. It is the peak of all intellectual and emotional alignment. This thing we call love which places value upon the other person of worth and as something to be protected.
It was interesting of all people, it was Oscar Wilde, who on his deathbed in his forties, with his lover by his side, Robbie Ross. He turned to Robbie and said, “Did you love any one of those little boys for their own sake?” It was an incredible question to ask by a man who was a hedonist on his deathbed in his forties. And Robbie said, “No, I can’t say I did.” Oscar said, “Bring me a minister, bring me a minister.” And it was in his magnificent poem, The Ballad of Reading Gaol that Oscar Wilde said, “Only Christ was big enough to cleanse his heart and forgive him from all that he had done.”
Ethic of Love and Freedom of the Will
The point even the hedonist realized was that in pleasure also, value and love are the supreme ethics that can be treasured. But you can never have love without intrinsically weaving into it, the freedom of the will. You cannot have love without the freedom of the will. If you are compelled by some machine to a certain decision, you can never love. You can comply but you will never be choosing to express that sentiment and the reality of love. If love is the supreme ethic and freedom is indispensable to love and God’s supreme goal for you and for me is that we will love Him with all our heart and love our neighbor as ourselves, for Him to violate our free will would be to violate that which is a necessary component so that love can flourish and love can be expressed.
If you are asking for God to always stop the trigger, why not ask God for everything else? Next time you make a pot of boiling water, He makes it frozen water instead. Next time you cross the street and you are about to be hit, He pulls your leg back. What you are asking for is a different entity than humanity. As wonderful as it may seem, in stopping that you think He is protecting you from that which is destructive. The greatest denial that you are asking for is the freedom of will to be able to choose and love God with all your heart and soul. When you have love as the supreme ethic and the freedom of the will to choose that love, all the other contingencies come in, and become explained why it is possible to either choose or reject so that love can ultimately reign supreme. If you want compliance and some kind of a mechanical response, your question itself will self-destruct. You are asking the question because you are free to ask it and you are free to ask it because you are free to love. And when you love Him in spite of all the contraries that you see around us, you are trusting Him for having the supreme wisdom and knowledge to ultimately bring a pattern out of it all. We think, for example, we know so much.
Good News, Bad News – Who Can Tell?
The story is told in Middle Eastern folklore of this man who lost his horse that ran away. And when the horse ran away, the neighbor came to him and said, “You know, bad luck isn’t it, your horse is gone?” And he said, “What do I know about these things?” A few days later the horse came back with 20 other wild horses. And the neighbor came and said, “Amazing! It’s not bad luck, it’s good luck! You’ve got 20 more.” And the man said, “What do I know about these things?” His young son is going and taming one of the new horses, that young horse kicks him and breaks his leg. That neighbor comes and says, “Terrible isn’t it, your son’s leg is broken. Bad luck that these horses came.” The fellow says, “What do I know about good luck and bad luck?” A few days go by and a bunch of thugs are coming looking for recruits to join their gang. And they’re looking for all the able-bodied young men. And they’re about to pick this young man but find out that leg is broken and they say, “We don’t want him, we’re going to move on to the next house.” And the man comes and says, “Good luck isn’t it, your son’s leg was broken.”
In one little series’ episode, we don’t know what lies ahead. Why don’t you wait until you stand before God face to face? And you will find out there were reasons why He didn’t stop that trigger so that you will see the heinousness of evil and see the majesty of love and good, managing to navigate yourself… As in The Pilgrim’s Progress you come to the Celestial City.