The Linn Cove viaduct, pictured above and located along the Blue Ridge Parkway running alongside Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina is not what one would consider a typical icon but it serves well today to illustrate something we discussed in our basic theology class at Trinity Cathedral. Our priest and mentor explained to us one of the basic theological concepts concerning creation. That is that God is separate from his creation and yet God is also in his creation and his creation is good. As I listened to this explanation my mind turned to thoughts of the Holy Trinity and the idea of the three in one; three distinct persons but one. God is therefore in the world but not of the world and is separate from the world he has created.
As we discussed this concept one of the members of the class asked the question we all wrestle with and that is why if God is good and his creation is good do we have events like those which have occurred recently in Charleston, in Columbia yesterday and in Oregon, today. Our gracious mentor made the point that while God is good and his creation is good he does give us the freedom to carry out our own lives in our own way. He and another member of our class noted that while the Charleston events were tragic the response of the community was miraculous in its healing power. God, he said, took a tragedy and turned it into a miracle.
So why does God afford us the freedom to hurt ourselves and each other in such terrible ways? We didn’t quite reach the answer to that question but in thinking it over it occurred to me that I have always been told that more than anything else God wants us to love him. And, in order for us to truly love him it must be a totally voluntary act on our part because if it is not it would be an empty gesture. As in our lives If you love someone and want them to love you, you first must set them free and allow them to determine for themselves if they love you or not . You cannot make someone love you or coerce them into it. This is the only way that true love can occur. So God sets us free in the hope that we will return to him and move closer to him by becoming Godlike in our actions.