Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Alma 62:39-40 -- On Good and Evil and Prayer

"And thus ended the thirty and first year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi; and thus they had had wars, and bloodsheds, and famine, and affliction, for the space of many years.
And there had been murders, and contentions, and dissensions, and all manner of iniquity among the people of Nephi; nevertheless for the righteous’ sake, yea, because of the prayers of the righteous, they were spared."
Alma 62:39-40

I hear the question a lot "Why would a good and loving God allow evil?"  Some people even argue that God's allowance of evil means that he is bad or cruel.  But, as Abraham argued when God was about to destroy the city of Sodom, it would be wrong to slay the righteous with the wicked (Genesis 18:25).  In Matthew 13 we read the parable of the wheat and the tares... which explains how we can't tell the wicked from the righteous until we are "fully ripe" (D&C 86:7).  I think it also gives us the chance and the time to figure out for ourselves as well.  We need the chance to learn and to grow and to become who we are going to be.  God put us here on earth for just that reason, so that we could all figure it out together... who we want to be, and what choices we are going to make.  Why does God allow evil in this world?  Because we all have some evil in us, and we have to learn to overcome it, and that takes time.  Because we have to have good and evil in front of us in order to make a real choice.
It's just like a child growing up and going to church because that's what his parents do.  Learning that worldview because that is what he's always known.  We don't know whether that child is true to God for himself until he gets out there on his own, away from that original influence, and makes choices as an individual, whether to rely on God and grow closer to him, or whether to walk away.  Likewise, a kid that has grown up without that influence and has made a lot of poor choices, far away from God... we don't know who she is going to become until she has a chance to be away from the bad influences of her life and discover what the good is about and find her own way.  We can't condemn or judge her prematurely, just as we can't judge the other way.  Only God knows when we've had a real chance to choose, and enough time to repent or change our minds.  We have all of this time to become something more and develop our talents and our ability to love.  God doesn't destroy the evil, because if he did, all of us would be gone, well before we had a chance to change.
These verses in particular I like because they talk about the prayers of the righteous to spare the people.  They, like us, are still here and not destroyed like Sodom was, because so many people want to give us more of a chance... to grow up.  To learn who we are.  To become something more.  To develop and shine.  Today, let's pray for the people around us as well, and ask God to spare us all a little longer, as we learn.  And, nourished by those same prayers, let's step up and change our lives before the harvest and the end.

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