Thomas Jefferson wrote in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.” This same idea was referenced by President Abraham Lincoln when he stated that “all men are created equal” in his famous address at Gettysburg. Man is created in God’s image, according to the book of Genesis. The book of James (chapter 3) tells us that human beings have been made in the likeness of God.
So the question that plagues me is, “If all people are created equal, in the image of God, then how come the world doesn’t look better than what it does?” Why is there so much evil in the world?
The first and primary answer is that not only have we all been created in God’s image, but unfortunately we were also born with a carnal, self-serving, sin nature. That is just basic biblical doctrine, but I didn’t want to let it go unsaid.
The second answer is the real point of this post. It has to do with choices. We are each born with a connection to our Heavenly Father and part of us craves that from the time of our conception. On the other hand, we selfishly want what we want, when we want it, how we want it, and how much of it we want. Whether we live a selfless Godly life or we live a completely self-serving life is entirely a matter of choice; not just one choice mind you, but a seemingly infinite number of very small choices all throughout the course of our lives.
Some people are in a good place thanks to the right choices they have made, while others have ended up in a much worse place in life as a result of their wrong choices. Think of the most amazing, wonderful person you know, that you have a great deal of respect for. Why are they that way? Were they born that way? I guess you could say that has something to do with it, since they were created in the image of God. But the more important determining factor is the good choices they have made in their life.
On the flip side, think of some of the people you have heard about who have committed some of the most heinous atrocities against their fellow man. Why are they the way that they are? Is it because they were born that way/? Absolutely not! After all, they too were created in the image of the Heavenly Father. The answer lies in the choices they have made up to this point in their lives. They didn’t just wake up one day and declare, “Today, I am going to do something so evil and unthinkable that it will shock the world!” Instead, they arrived at that place after a series of wrong choices. One choice can alter our direction by only a fraction of a degree, but like a spacecraft launched toward a distant planet, a change in direction by only a small fraction of a degree early in the course can end up causing you to be thousands of miles from hitting the intended target in the end.
None of us is perfect, never making a wrong choice in life. We all make some bad choices, but that doesn’t have to be the end of our story. God gives us the ever-present option to realize and admit our wrong choices, turn and begin to make right choices. The result can be truly life-altering.