March 10, 2011

God and Evil Pt 4- Why Doesn't God Stop All Bad Things From Happening?

As we explore questions surrounding God and evil, this is a question that is no doubt on everyones mind; why doesn't God stop all bad things from happening?* This is an excellent question! After all we constantly talk about God being good, and God being love. And yet if God really was good and really loved us wouldn't he just stop all evil from happening?

So how do we reconcile a loving and powerful God, with a world of pain and suffering? Why doesn't God just stop it all from happening?

First it is worth saying that when we ask this question we may not fully understand what we are asking for. For God to put an end to all the evils we see the world as we know it must change. People must change, nature must change, everything has to change. As we have said the world is not the way it ought to be, and people still make sinful choices that affect others. Until that changes bad things will keep happening

Now that kind of overhaul of creation is just what God has promised he will do. Revelations 21 and 22 tell us as much. They tell us that the world will be recreated, and all that is wrong in the world will be put right. All the injustices, will be addressed. All of the pain will be dealt with. But that world is not yet here. We are still waiting.

Easily One Of My Favorite Passages
Now if we take God at his word, the question changes a little. Instead of asking why doesn't God stop evil from happening, it becomes; why is God waiting to overhauled creation? Or, why is God waiting to stop evil?

First why is he waiting. Like I said above putting an end to all evil, means putting an end to the world as me know it. It means Christ's return and the judgement of all humanity. Christ's return has implications beyond just putting an end to suffering. The moment he returns all of our eternal destinies will be reveled. Peter tells us that he is making sure the world has sufficient time to know him. Beyond that I have no answer for why not today, or yesterday or last year. Jesus wishes to give us more time.

While this renewed future awaits us, evil is still present. Given that fact it is worth asking what has God already done about evil, and what is God doing now while we wait for things to be fully dealt with?

First lets tackle; what has God already done? A full answer to this one would be quite long. Instead I will give a somewhat truncated version. First God has reveled to us the standard that we are to live by. If everyone followed the law's God has given the world would be a much safer place to live. Second he sent his Son, to show us an even higher standard of goodness and holiness. If all people lived by the principles of Christ the world would be a much better place. Third Christ died for our sins, which is what has made the above promise possible. Forth while evil is present, it is not unrestricted. The story of Job and of Peter's temptation tell us that Satan can only take action if God permits it. Does that mean that nothing bad will happen, no of course not. But at least we can join with David and say, "“I am in deep distress. Let me fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into human hands." A great deal more could be said about those four things and this list can run much longer. Yet this gives us at least some idea of what God has done.

Lastly we need to ask; what is God doing right now? Again we are looking at a rather shortened answer to this question. While God has certainly done more there are three major things I want to cover. First despite our fallen nature God has given each and everyone of us a sense of right and wrong. If a person is raised well (e.g. no emotional, or physical abuse and their mental capacities are fully developed) people know hurting others is not acceptable, that stealing is not right, and that people can't do whatever they please. In short most everyone starts off with a conscience. Now whether one listens to it is a whole different matter. Second God has sent the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sins. This goes for Christian and Non-Christian alike. Each one of us gets an extra little nudge towards what is right and holy. This nudge turns outsiders in to Christians, and helps Christian to keeping walking as Christ commanded.

Third God ordinated the church, to be Jesus' body, his hands and feet in the world. Now admittedly many of us in the body have dropped the ball on this one. Instead of being a force for good in the world many of us have become selfish, inwardly focused and useless. This is not the way it ought to be. And when the church is at its best it is not the way it is. When it is at its best, broken hearts are attended too, empty stomaches are feed, the oppressed are cared for the sick healed, and the lost find a place to call home. We need to make sure we are always at our best.

So there you have it. And in case you have forgotten it, here is a review;

1. An important question is why doesn't God stop all bad things from happening.
2. To do that would require a complete overhaul of creation.
3. Which God has promised he will do.
4. But he is waiting to make sure we have enough time to come to faith in him
5. In the mean time God has already done a great deal to alleviate evil.
6. He has;
   a) Given us a code of living
   b) He sent Jesus to call us to an even higher level of goodness
   c) Christ died so our sins could be forgiven
   d) While evil is present is is not unrestricted.
7) He continues to;
   a) Provides us with a conscience
   b) Convicts Christian and Non-Christian a like of sin
   c) Use the church to be salt and light.

*I feel I should note that I am highly in debt to C.S.Lewis' Mere Christianity and Problem Of Pain for this blog

1 comment:

  1. Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. 7 And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities. 8 But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.