This is Part 2 of 4 parts answering the question, “Could God have created a place where there was no suffering?” in the larger question, “How can a loving God allow suffering?” Parts 3-4 will be posted in the following days.
God Desired to Receive Love from Man
God also desired to receive love from man. To test his love, God gave him only one command in the Garden of Eden, “Do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” That was a very simple choice to show his loyal love to God, but Adam failed the test by eating of the forbidden fruit.
After the fall, God still desired man to show his love for Him, even though he (man) now possessed the sin nature. When asked what the great commandment was, Jesus responded, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Mat 22:37 NKJ) He also taught how we show our love for Him, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15 NKJ) Additionally, Jesus guided the disciples to see how important love is when He said,
21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. (John 14:21-24 NKJ)
Jesus even compared man’s love for Him to man’s love for parents, and made it an issue of following Him when He said, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matt. 10:37 NKJ) The Apostle Paul emphasized love for the Lord when he said, “If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed.” (1 Cor. 16:22 NKJ) Indeed, God’s desire to have man love (and worship) Him was part of the basis for creating man. But by creating him different than the animals, He gave man free-will. This meant man could choose to reject God’s love.
Part 3 will be posted tomorrow.