The Problem of Evil

Evil will, one day, be completely eliminated. This is the good news hope that we can share.

We live on a really amazing, beautiful, and an incredible planet. All of Creation sings and reflects the beauty and glory of its maker.

Nature is awesome. Except when it’s not. Natural disasters are responsible for an average of 97,954 deaths this decade.

People are awesome. Except when they are not. Intentional homicides are responsible for approximately 135,000 deaths per year worldwide.

People are still awesome. Except when they really, really are not. According to the World Health Organization, there are an estimated 45 to 50 Million abortions per year. (There is a horrifying year-to-date counter at http://www.worldometers.info/abortions/)

Open up any social media platform and you will quickly see that our world is filled to the brim of terrible things, events, and terrible people.

Why?

Why is there evil in our world?

This is a question that has been asked for centuries. If there is a good and perfect God who is in control, then why is there still evil in the world?

Apologists (those who work to give an answer for the faith based on 1 Peter 3:15-16) have been faced with this question many times. There are many good books, articles, and debates that clearly and comprehensively tackle the “Problem of Evil.” If you are looking for a more complete answer to the “Problem of Evil” there are many good books that you could check out. C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain is a good place to start.

But apologists aren’t the only ones who face, or have ever wondered about this question. Chances are that you have already been asked a question like this one. Or, perhaps, you yourself have pondered this question many times.

Well, what I offer you today certainly is not a comprehensive guide. However, I do hope that these few points can provide a bit of clarity as to why and how there is evil in the world. And, more importantly, how God views evil and what He is doing about it.

-What the Bible says-

-God did not create evil, He hates evil. There was no place for imperfection in His perfect creation. (Gen. 1:31)

-God gives mankind freedom to make their own choices. Often times mankind’s choices result in evil. (Gen. 2:16-17 & 3:1-7)

-When sin entered into the world it brought everything we consider evil, death, suffering, unfairness, sickness, pain, etc. This evil impact everything and everyone man, woman, even the earth creation itself. (Gen. 3:14-19, Romans 8:21-23)

-God always has and always will work to contain evil. It’s not as bad as it could be. (Gen. 3:21, Deut. 9:5, & Jonah 3:6-10)

-God has always had a plan to defeat evil once and for all. (Gen. 3:15, Mark 10:35, Romans 5:6-8, Colossians 1:21-22)

-Jesus hasn’t come back yet because He cares for and loves people. (2 Peter 3:9-10)

-God has been and will be successful in His plan to defeat evil. (2 Corinth. 5:17, Rev. 21:1-5)

-Important things to remember-

-God did not create robots, He created free thinking people that can choose either Him or something else.

-The world is a place full of evil and suffering as a result of those bad choices called sin.

-We ought to view sin and evil just as God does. We should despise it. (Proverbs 8:13)

-Jesus defeated sin, death, and evil when He died on the cross. Evil will be completely eliminated in the New Heaven and New Earth. This is the good news hope that we can share.

Transforming Society

Chances are that this last week, whether on the news or in a casual conversation, you heard the questions; Why did this happen? and What can we do?

The answers to those questions are both very complicated and yet plainly simple.

This, along with every other mind-numbing tragedy, happened because of sin. And what can we do? A lot.

Before you read on I would challenge you to stop for a moment and pray. Pray for all of those who have been impacted personally by the horrific events of last week. I would also encourage you to pray for the transformation of our society of which has become numb to death and destruction.

It is saddening to see “shares” on social media of numbers of deaths caused by guns vs. drunk drivers vs. knives vs. etc. Giving into those arguments only continues to make us numb. I fear that we have gotten to a place where we forget that there are real people behind each of those numbers represented. Human life is worth more than that.

Laws are important, but I do not want to get into any sort of debate here. The reason is that neither the right nor the left have the remedy for what ails us. That remedy only comes in one form and one form only. His name is Jesus.

Jesus is the centerpiece of the Bible and He carries with Him the message and the mission of the Bible: redemption. In simpler terms, God heals what is broken.

Our society is broken. Our neighbors, co-workers, families, and friends are all broken. We are broken. Jesus can fix that.

2 Corinthians 5:17 promises that if anyone belongs to Jesus they have been made new.

Ephesians 2 tells us that we can be transformed from death to life because of God’s great love.

Romans 5:6-8 reminds us that Jesus welcomes us in our weakest, ugliest, and worst states.

So, what are we, those who have been transformed by the love of Jesus, to do in the midst of times such as these? We do what Jesus always intended for us, the church, to do.

We transform society. (Matthew 5:13-16)

We shine so that others may see. (Matt 5:16)

We don’t conform but rather allow the Holy Spirit to transform us. (Romans 12:2)

We remember where we come from. (John 17:16)

We stand up against what is wrong. (Daniel 1 & 3)

We remember what our mission is. (John 17:15 &23)

We remember who is with us on this mission. (Matthew 28:18-20)

We tell others what Jesus came to do. (Luke 19:10)

We walk what we talk. (James 1:19-27)

We trust God to make beauty from ashes. (Genesis 50:20)

One of my favorite Missions organizations (Send me a message if you’re interested in finding out which one and I will tell you all about them!) has an incredible missions statement. Here are my favorite parts of it.  “A movement of God…that finds its home in the local church and transforms society.”

I love that statement so much because a movement of God that is fueled by local churches and transforms society can and should happen anywhere. Whether we are here or there, God can and will use us, His church, to impact the world around us. Imagine what could happen if believers everywhere began to focus all their time, effort, and energy on transforming society. We transform society by telling people about Jesus and by living our own lives like He did.

We can’t afford to not tell people about Jesus. We can’t afford to not live for and like Jesus. The people around us can’t afford it either.

Revelations 21:3-6

Come soon Lord Jesus.

The Consumed Consumer.

“The Bible calls us to be servants, not consumers”

Black Friday. Cyber Monday.

How crazy is this? Businesses spend countless hours preparing for these two days. Their end goal? To trick customers into buying as much of their product as possible. The funniest/saddest part? We all know exactly what they are doing…and yet we still run to the stores anyway.

Let me be clear, I am not trying to make anyone feel bad, nor am I condemning going Black Friday shopping. (My wife and I actually went with friends and had a great time and even got some great deals on gifts for friends and family.) However, the point that I am getting at is this. We live in a consumeristic culture and its grip on many of us is very strong.

Again, there is nothing wrong with being a consumer at the stores. Looking for the best deals is actually a great way to be a wise steward of your resources.

However, when we allow our consumer mentality to creep into other aspects of our lives it becomes very dangerous very fast.

The problem with being a perpetual consumer is that the focus is always on self. What is best for me? What can I get out of this? How can I put forth the smallest effort in order to get the biggest reward? What about me? While these questions might seem normal to the culture we find ourselves in, they actually all run counter to a biblical mindset.

One of the themes we see repeated over and over again in the Bible is one of selflessness, and let’s be real, consumerism is entirely selfish. Where do we see that selfless theme in the Bible? I’m glad you asked.

-Mark 9:35 “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and a servant of all.”

-John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

-Mark 10:44 “and whoever would be first must be a slave (servant) of all.”

-Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

This is just a small sample size of Jesus’ very own words that highlight the biblical attitude of selflessness. Jesus also stunningly displayed this attitude in John 13 when He washed His disciple’s feet. Just try to imagine for a moment that you were there witnessing the Creator God of the universe doing the humiliating job of the lowest of servants. Jesus was not a consumer. And let’s not forget the most selfless act of all, when Jesus gave His life on the cross to save us from our sins.

The Bible calls us to be servants, not consumers. Jesus’ model for us is of service, not consumerism.

We must continually fight against having a consumer mindset when it comes to our church, family, friends, community, and the list goes on. President John F. Kennedy once famously said, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” I love that sentiment. Ask not what your friends can do for you, ask what you can do for your friends. For your neighbors. For your family. For your church.

Unfortunately, consumerism has crept into churches all across the country. Individuals might look for a church based on what they can get, rather than what they can contribute to that local body of believers. That’s not to say that being a part of a local church doesn’t have benefits. The church that Jesus Christ established has wonderful benefits that you can find nowhere else on earth. However, along with benefits come responsibilities.

You and your church remain healthiest when both are actively involved and concerned with serving one another. We must remember that the church is not a building or a business. The church isn’t even really an institution in the traditional sense. The church is people. We cannot be consumers of people. We need to serve people.

This Christmas season let’s look for opportunities to think of others rather than just ourselves. Imagine what our communities, families, and churches would look like if we went out of our way in order to serve one another.

Let’s stop being consumers and instead have a higher mindset.

Galatians 5:13 “…through love serve one another.”