Is this planet the proper place for man? It would seem that to even ask this is to question God’s wisdom. We’re here, aren’t we! This world and its inhabitants are the works or His hands. Why did He not just take us to Himself and forego the existence of a world? Why do we feel like such exiles here?
First of all, we are exiles here serving our banishment until we can, once again, go back home. Secondly, it seems to me that the role of the world as our place of exile is most intimately connected with the will. Love is not love until it is given. To create us and take us directly to Himself eliminates our willful choice to give God our love. In fact, it eliminates will entirely. No choice is involved. Therefore it was necessary that something be provided as a means of choosing – as an environment in which choices could be worked out – a time and place of exile during which we work out our own journey back home; hence, the world. It is in this sense that the world and the will are intrinsically bound.
I think God did not create the world for Himself but for us so that through it and during our exile upon it we might willfully and freely reject it and choose God. When one spells it out in words, it sounds quite odd: God created the world for us so that we could reject it and that, by so doing, we could ally our hearts with His.
What of the angels one might ask? They were created directly for God and needed no world yet they were still given a choice. This stops me! In fact, it stopped me so completely that I puzzled over it, did some research, and even talked to a friend about it. What we can’t figure out we often relegate to “mystery” and that may be where this belongs; yet it may simply be that the nature of the creature dictated the medium. The angels too have their “world” as different and incomprehensible as it may be to us. In the world of the angels those who chose against God were not given a second chance and their exile is permanent. Had men remained faithful to God they would not feel like such exiles here; but with us, our exile is our second chance and the world is where we work it out. So, in a real sense, it is a most fortunate exile; for through our exile we may come back to God. Thus, the feeling of being an exile here, the spiritual alienation of such an exile, and the loneliness of it are all very much connected with hope – and there is joy in hope. So, it is with more than just irony that we are able to say: “Oh, happy exile!”