Free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love, goodness or joy worth having.
This is one of the answers I can think of to questions like “If God is good and loving, then why does He allow pain and suffering in the world?”
It is meaningless to “be” good if you didn’t have a choice in the matter. Being loved by someone who doesn’t have a choice whether or not to love you is equally meaningless. But the price in giving us the choice means there will be those who will choose evil or choose hate.
“Could God not get rid of all the people who choose evil?”
Has there ever been a moment where something happened and for a few intense moments/days/years you felt something stronger and darker than anger, you actually felt hate? We have all been there….and if God were to rid the world of hate and evil, He’d have to rid the world of humans. It’s like V.I.K.I. in I,Robot who was perfectly rational. She felt humans were too destructive and applied a law that robots were to protect humans at all costs, even if it meant harming another human. But this line of logic meant that protecting humans from themselves pretty much meant destroying them.
And so, while each act of evil or hate that we choose to carry out deeply grieves and angers the heart of God, His love, mercy and grace keeps Him from wiping all of us off the earth. He gives each of us many chances to turn around and to choose love instead of hate. He gives many chances for us to turn to His transformative power so we can choose love. Choosing love, incidently, is counter-intuitive to our self-serving nature. We are only capable of any kind of goodness and love at all because we are created in God’s image.
“Does that mean being bad and evil is also in God’s image?” Not at all, the absence of God’s spirit in a person is what allows the “badness” to come through. Like how the absence of light is what causes darkness.
It has also been said, if God’s offers to rid a persons heart of evil is rejected time and time again, He will rid the world of that person.
Perhaps the answer to the first question really is:
“There is pain and suffering in the world because we have not all chosen to be transformed by and to remain in His love through Christ.”