Last week I read an article on ESPN. Because this is how I get to pretend to be a sports fan without having to spend my time actually watching sports. It recounts basketball player Ron Artest’s application for a name change.
What did he want his name to be?
Metta World Peace
…as you might have guessed.
In a smidgen of irony, the request was turned down by a judge because of unpaid parking tickets. And, in a Chuck Norris version of irony, Ron Artest was a part of this: see clip of Ron Artest brawling with a fan
Now, I am not speaking for Ron Artest, his actions, motivations, or perhaps his change of heart. But this story did make me think of the conversation I have had on several occasions with people who want to talk about the “Problem of Evil.”
How can a good and powerful God exist with so much evil in the world? Why wouldn’t God just get rid of it? The main problem I have found with these questions is that they almost always assume that the “evil” is “out there.” That there is a secret stash of evil in some remote jungle and it gets sprinkled over the earth every evening at dusk. We have watched way too many movies where the “bad guys” are obvious. They parade around in black with AK47’s and only want to hurt people. What they rarely recognize is that most of what we mean by “evil” is found in every human heart. We each contribute in our own way to the broken systems of this world. With every unpaid parking ticket, every hurtful word to our spouse, every selfish act leads to unintended but harmful consequences. When you put trillions of those acts together in one space and over centuries of time, you get our world.
The only way for God, then, to eradicate evil is to eradicate humanity. In the “Problem of Evil” we are all the problem. And death to us all is the solution. Unless of course, he found another way. And that is what we call the Gospel. And only the good news of God coming to change the human heart will lead us toward world peace; no name change, best intention, or most well-lived life can bring it.*
*I do however consider as partners those who, through well-lived lives, good intentions, and name changes, promote peace.