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Why Does God Allow Evil?

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In God's Wisdom he intervenes
And in his wisdom he does not
In scripture he reveals this
Daily he does not 

Hope says, "I understand"
Fear says, "I do not" 

Mercy says, "Shed thy light on me"
Shame says, "You cannot" 

Dark and foolish is every heart
That eventually receives God's light
Renewed and whole is everyone
Whose soul forgets its fight. 

 

In the midst of evil and suffering, the two options that the world puts before Christians are,

"If God exists, he is either incompetent or not all powerful."

A common response is to lament, "If only they knew that God is in control, and that regardless of what happens, I trust in him." As believers, we don't need the explanation that the world does--our answer comes from faith.

But we forget that "faith" give us our answer, and the absence of saving faith in God gives the world its question.

Throughout a millennia of questions, Jesus has answered: "Regardless of what the world thinks I can do, regardless of the what the world thinks I should do, I have done everything that you needed me to.  My power and competence were on full display the day I turned evil and suffering into victory."

The Cross is a symbol of what was overcome, and a symbol of the price that was paid for joy everlasting. That same suffering and evil were used on behalf of those who have been delivered from "the domain of darkness and transferred into the Kingdom of God's beloved Son" (Colossians 1:13).

The greatest questions need the greatest answers. Never forget that Jesus is ours.

George McDonald, a 19th century minister and author, wrote, "The Son of God suffered unto death not that men might not suffer but that their suffering might be like His."

When we understand this truth, we understand James 1:2-3 in its real context:

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

God's power and competence is demonstrated through us knowing and believing that even though He is not the cause of evil, He can use it for his purposes (Romans 8:28).

 

 

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Jesus Wants Me To What?

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“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? “If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." - Matthew 5:43–48 (NASB)

 

This past Sunday Frank told a story from his high school English teacher days about a student who was being bullied.  He recommended a new way to fight.  He advised the bullied student to take loving action on behalf of the "enemy".  The result was two-fold.  The student (who was a believer) took action in faith that was characteristic of God, and the bully responded by no longer making fun of the student.  They weren't best friends, but they weren't enemies anymore.  

Jesus' fighting style met the world's...and Jesus won.

In Jesus' famous Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), in a section of teaching that scholars often label “The Antitheses,” Jesus introduces six teachings that each begin with the words, "You have heard it said…but I say to you." (Matthew 5:21-48)

In each of the six statements Jesus introduces an ancient or current teaching held in high regard by the culture and asks his audience to dismiss these views in favor of a higher level of obedience that should be characteristic of His people.  This section ends with Jesus flipping on its head perhaps the most natural teaching of every culture: hatred of our enemies.  

You have heard it said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love you enemies and pray for those who persecute you."

Culture says deal with others as they deal with us and punish those who hurt us.  But Christ has a different expectation of those who are His: "My children don't deal with conflict as the world does.  It is said of my children that they love and pray for all regardless of others' actions toward them."

But why does this matter?  Aren't enemies people who deserve justice or punishment for the way they've treated us? 

Jesus says that His children whom He has redeemed are to act like Him.  If you are His and  don’t act differently, how are others to know that there is an alternative?  Your action in connection with Christ pictures the new life described in the Sermon on the Mount and in the Gospel.

He has shown us love by acting on our behalf for our salvation when we were once His enemies.  He has “fought” for us sacrificially.  That is the way God fights for his people.  That is the way Jesus fought for us.  Therefore, we fight like he fights. We are to be perfect as our heavenly father is perfect (5:48).

Christ is our example.  And unlike the world’s fighting style that keeps having to change to combat their unending enemies, Jesus' style is to stop the fighting--not with sentimental feeling but with action on our behalf.  The world can't overcome Jesus' fighting style.

It has always been too strong.

PUT TRUTH INTO PRACTICE

Prayerfully and through the power of the Holy Spirit, begin to replace your attitude and response to that which Christ taught and modeled: 

  • Change your mind. Stop thinking retaliatory thoughts about your enemy.
  • Change your heart. Start desiring good things for your enemy.
  • Change your speech.  Pray for your enemy.
  • Change your actions. Welcome your enemy.

Watch the sermon from September 14:

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