Perhaps one of the oldest and most vexing questions Christians must struggle with is: If God made everything and God is good, how did evil come to exist? Not only must Christians struggle with this question for their own faith, but it is an important topic that often must be addressed when others ask us about our faith. The question often arises: If God made everything and evil exists, doesn’t that mean God created evil?

For years, I was unable to give an answer that was satisfactory to my own desire. Although I knew God was good and my understanding of this complex question was not absolutely necessary, it stayed in the back of my mind, begging for an answer or at the very least a fair analogy. I wanted this answer for myself and to give an explanation to someone else who may let this conundrum hold him or her back from the faith. Then the perfect example came up and bit me.

I used to meet regularly with a young man to discuss his pressing issues, not the least of which were impatience and passing blame onto others. Every time we met, we would go to a local pizza shop to get something to eat while we talked. One day as we arrived, our timing was perfect, as our regular order of one large barbeque chicken pizza with extra sauce was sliding out of the oven. If you’ve never experienced a barbeque chicken pizza before, let me assure you it is a vastly underappreciated combination. The smell wafted through the store, and both of our stomachs grumbled in anticipation of our lunch. The pizza slid into the box and quickly into our possession. As we sat down to eat, I opened the box, the pizza still steaming. So I gave one simple warning, “The pizza is still too hot to eat; let it cool for a few minutes, and then we will eat.”

You can guess what happened next. He grabbed a slice of pizza and crammed it into his mouth. The pizza which had been in the oven not a minute before burned not only his mouth, but also his arm because he dropped the slice in surprise. The pizza wedge landed cheese-side down on his bare skin. He screamed, “The pizza…is evil!”

I explained to him the pizza was not evil. It was in fact quite good. I had a slice a few minutes later to confirm it. Unfortunately, he had misused the pizza. Even after a direct warning not to eat the pizza before it had cooled. Rather than blame himself, he blamed the pizza. He even blamed the person who made the pizza in the first place, and he blamed me for putting the pizza in front of him.

This story may remind you of another food-related tragedy located in the first chapter of Genesis. God created many things, all of which He described as good, including food for the man and woman to eat. We don’t know exactly what kinds of food there were, but I imagine they were even more delicious than my barbeque chicken pizza. After God set this food down in front of them, He gave them one simple warning: “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). You know what happened next. They ate it—and they got burned. Then they passed the blame. Adam said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate” (Genesis 3:12). Adam did not just blame Eve for his sin. He blamed God for bringing her to him. Thousands of years later, their decedents continue to pass the blame back to God.

The man who made our pizza was not evil for making it. I was not evil for buying it. I was not evil for giving a warning. The pizza was more innocent than any of us. It was the misuse of the pizza that brought evil into the situation, and the only one to shoulder the blame was the person who misused it. In the same way, although God created everything and set it in front of Adam and Eve, this does not make Him the author of evil. What He created and set before Adam and Eve was good, His warning was good; and when they misused it and brought evil into the world, they had only themselves to blame.

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