Posts Tagged ‘evil’

In this excerpt from a message on James 1:1-4, pastor Marc examines some aspects of wy God would create a world in which we are allowed to endure trials and experience suffering.

How Would YOU Answer?

This past Sunday, following service, a lady approached me and said that during the message something I had said sparked a question from her son.

He asked, “If God knew that we would sin, then why did He create us to begin with?”

That is an excellent and insightful question from this young man. This is a common question that comes to believers both from skeptics and unbelievers as well as within our ownheart. Faced with that question, what anser would YOU give? Please feel free to post your responses in the comments here or on Facebook.

Later this week, I will post my response to this important question.

Part 2 of the examination of The Problem of Evil and Suffering. Pastor Marc explains how morally sufficient reasons alleviate the logical tention with the intellectual problem, and how the God of the Bible is actually a solution to suffering, and not a problem.

 

Note: This post is not meant to comfort and ease. It is an attempt to consider a usually not considered perspective.

If you’ve never heard of Dennis Prager, he’s a radio talk show host, among other things. I don’t always agree with him, but he’s got a good head on his shoulders and is not afraid of dealing with the deeper, tougher issues. One especially cool thing about Dennis is that he will do an “Ultimate Issues Hour” on his show where he addresses some major spiritual or life impacting issue. Kudos to Dennis. He will actually bring on people he disagrees with just to bring up the conversation and get people thinking.

Well, a while back he had on Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a best selling author, who has been described as “America’s rabbi.” He has a book out called “The Fed-Up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Suffering and Tragedy.”

The whole basis of his book is that God does not want us to suffer, and therefore in the face of tragedies (like Sandy Hook) we should not tell people that God has an ultimate purpose or that their loved ones are “home now” with God or any other number of plattitudes we tend to offer. He said, on the program, that we shouldn’t seek to find the good in a tragedy, but instead recognize that all suffering is evil and seek to end all suffering.


That’s when it occurred to me that Shmuley has an idol problem. He has placed comfort and physical, earthly well-being above the holiness and glory of God.

God’s main concern with our well-being is not our physical conformt or emotional satisfaction, but our spiritual condition, namely our righteousness (or our tremendous lack thereof).

Shmuley contends that God could easily find some way to teach us our lessons or get His points across without allowing suffering. But really, I think Shmuley misses the boat. Ending suffering is just simply not on God’s top priority to-do list.

Suffering is a result of SIN, and it will end when everything is made new as explained in the book of Revelation. God’s issue is with the root cause of suffering (sin) not how much of it we experience.

You need examples. Ok.

In John 11 Lazarus dies. Jesus KNOWS he is sick and will die. He purposely waits for Lazarus to die and THEN goes to Bethany. Read the story. Mary and Martha are definitely suffering. Not to mention the other mourners that are mentioned. And what about Lazarus? Any death causing illness could not have been pleasant to endure, especially one that took days to kill him. There is lots of suffering going on … and Jesus could have spared them all if He would have just come sooner (actually, He is capable of long distance healing as we see elsewhere). But he didn’t … ON PURPOSE. The greater thing for everyone to experience was not a lack of suffering, but to witness that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah who held power over death.

In John 9, Jesus heals a man who had been born blind. A MAN… adult. So for several decades this guy … and his parents … had to suffer the hardships of blindness in 1st century Israel. The disciples of Jesus were debating about WHY the man was born blind, and Jesus’ response …? that the works of God should be revealed in him.”

That’s it. All the suffering of this man’s life, not to mention the hardships it put his family through, for decades, all so on this one day Jesus could display the power and mercy of God by healing him.


God has bigger concerns than our temporary, earthly comfort.

But Shmuley’s a Jewish Rabbi, not a Christian. So let’s go Old Testament.

Check out Numbers 21. The Israelites start bad mouthing Moses and God, so what does God do? Verse 6, So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died.” And that’s not suffering He “allowed”, God was the CAUSE of that suffering.


Have you read the book of Judges? God uses foreign nations to send judgment on His people. When a foreign power takes over (especially back then), they don’t just take over the capital and hang out new flags. People (God’s people) would have been killed, beaten, have their possessions taken, and let’s not even dwell on what the conquering people might do with the women. And this pattern repeated over and over.


In Exodus, the plagues that God sends on Egypt.


God is not concerned about our comfort level here on earth. We have a far bigger problem: SIN.


The perfect, righteous, holy, Creator of the universe looks at mankind and sees a hard-hearted group of rebels. We, by nature, are sinful, treacherous, usurpers in open and defiant rebellion against God. The Bible says we are “storing up wrath” (Romans 2:5), and one day God is going to settle this once and for all.


If what it takes to get the point across to us hard-headed stubborn rebels is some suffering … then suffering is what God will give us.


And it is possible that He also just simply allows suffering to occur as the natural consequence of sin, just so that we get the picture of how serious and damaging sin is. Sin is our problem, not our suffering.


Jesus didn’t come to end our suffering. He came to forgive our sin. And one day when He establishes His kingdom and puts and end to sin … the suffering will be gone, too.


But I will agree with Shmuley on one point. People who are suffering do not need our platitudes … they need our compassion. In John 11 when Jesus goes to Bethany to raise Lazarus, He doesn’t give Mary and Martha a sermon on divine purpose and the Messiah’s reign over death. He doesn’t explain how God has a higher purpose or that Lazarus is home now. 

He weeps with them.

 If my hair wasn’t already thinning, I just might pull it out.

This is a good follow up to my last post on Human Nature.

I don’t know why the total ignorance of reality constantly being paraded before us still surprises me, but sometimes it does.

We’re corrupt, fallen, selfish people, and without the regeneration and new life given through Jesus Christ we can never really comprehend morality. People can learn good habits and even have good humanitarian reasons why “being good” is, … well … good. But depraved minds just don’t really get it.

Every one’s favorite “Twilight” star (thankfully that series is over). … anyway, a while back she was apparently caught in a heated make-out session with the directer. Not a big shock there. She’s 22 and he’s 41. Still no real big shock there either, but it gets a little too day-time-TV drama when you learn she has a boyfriend and he has a wife and kids!

Scandalous, even in our rapidly declining society.

The part that just really got me all riled up is a supposed “source”‘s take: Apparently the girl “is absolutely devastated.” Well, at least she has some conscience left. Let’s pray the Holy Spirit can use it to prompt her to receive the Gospel, if there’s anyone in her life who will share it.

The source went on to tell People, “It was a mistake and a complete lapse in judgment.” (ya think?) “She wasn’t having an affair with Rupert. It was just a fleeting moment that shouldn’t have happened. She never meant to hurt anyone.” We seldom do, but that doesn’t change things. Here’s the REAL kicker that got me, “She’s a good person who just made a bad choice.” 

WHAT?! 


OK, I don’t want this to be a drama filled, bash on a celeb piece. So let’s forget the who we’re talking about. The Who doesn’t matter.

You don’t get to be hot-and-heavy with a guy nearly 2x your age who has a family and say “Oops, I feel bad about it.”  You don’t accidentally make out with a married man. And a married man sure as heck doesn’t accidentally play kissy-face with a 20-something co-worker.

And yet, many still have the audacity to say, “They’re really good people at heart. It was just a mistake.”

When will we wake up? No they’re not really good at heart. They’re just like the rest of us, “sinful from birth” (Psalm 51:5) and in need of forgiveness (Romans 3:22-24).

People ask how a loving God could allow bad things? We’ve so deluded ourselves that we don’t see that the bad in the world comes from us, and not just the big stuff but even the small miseries. We do them to ourselves and to each other.

If God wasn’t loving, the bible would be about 3 pages long, and He would have sent the whole lot of us straight to hell … and He’d be right to do so!

But He loves us enough to give us life and give us hope, hope that we can be forgiven because of His grace, through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8).

We’re not a bunch of good-at-heart people making mistakes every now and then. We are selfish, pride-filled sinners deserving of justice. Some people have asked me why God puts up with us. If we’re so bad, why doesn’t He just wipe us out? Why drag this out?

We are guilty, and we have a death sentence (Genesis 3). The same reason we keep death row inmates around for decades before actually carrying out the sentence. Mercy. We allow time for appeals and a chance for them to prove their innocence, or maybe even for a pardon to come through. While we are certainly guilty, and there is no higher appeal than God, we can be pardoned. Jesus Christ died and rose again to purchase that pardon for all who would repent and believe. God is not being cruel in allowing us to stay in this broken world with all of its miseries and problems. He is giving us time to come back to Him so that we may be pardoned.