Posted in TheScroogeReport.com
GREG LAURIE – A NEW BEGINNING
Greg Laurie pastors Harvest Christian Fellowship (one of America’s largest churches) in Riverside, California. Laurie is the author of 12 inspirational books, which are available online.
Here’s one of the biggest questions people ask when they wrestle with the claims of Christianity:
If God is so good and loving, why does He allow evil?
You’ve probably heard it in a score of versions: Why does He allow babies to be born blind? Why does He allow wars to rage, killing innocent people? How could He stand by and let a little girl be kidnapped, raped and murdered? What about all the horrible injustice in the world? How could He allow this hurricane … this tsunami … this earthquake … this wildfire … this epidemic? If He can prevent such terrible tragedies, why does He allow them to take place?
Here’s the classic statement of the problem: Either God is all powerful but not all good, and therefore He doesn’t stop evil – or He’s all good but not all powerful, and therefore He can’t stop evil. The general tendency, of course, is to blame God for evil and suffering, transferring all responsibility to Him.
So let’s look closer at the core question: If God is so good and loving, why does He allow evil?
The first part of this question is based on a false premise. People who express those words are essentially suggesting (or saying outright) that God must meet their own criteria of goodness. But who are they to set standards for God? When did they become the moral center of the universe?
The fact is God doesn’t become “good” just because that’s my opinion of Him, or because I personally agree with His words or actions. God is good because He says He is! Jesus said, “No one is good, except God alone” (Luke 18:19). God is good – whether I believe it or not. He and He alone is the final court of arbitration. As Paul said, “Let God be true, and every man a liar” (Romans 3:4, NIV).
What is “good”? Good is whatever God approves. And it’s good because He approves it! There’s no higher standard of goodness than God’s own character – and His approval of whatever’s consistent with that character.
So God is good. Period.
Now let’s come back to the second part of the question. Why does He allow evil?
Remember that mankind was not created evil, but perfect. In their original state, Adam and Eve were innocent, ageless and immortal. But from the very beginning – from the time God breathed the breath of life into Adam’s inanimate form – man has had the ability to choose right or wrong.
And he made his choice.
Had man never sinned, there would have been no resulting curse. But now it’s too late: “When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned” (Romans 5:12, NLT).
The point to keep in mind here is that humanity – not God – is responsible for sin.
So why didn’t God create human beings to be incapable of sin? Because that would make us less than human. God created us in His image, and part of that image within us is a free will – a capacity to choose good or evil, to do right or wrong.
It’s easy to think the world would be a much better and safer place if God hadn’t given us our free will. In many ways, our free will is our worst curse. But it’s also our greatest blessing. If God hadn’t given us a free will, we would merely be puppets on a string, remote-controlled robots that bow before Him at the touch of a button.
God, however, wants to be loved and obeyed by creatures who voluntarily choose to do so. Love cannot be genuine if there’s no other option. You and I can choose to love God. And if we’re realistic, we have every reason in the world to make that choice.
After the 9-11 terrorist attacks destroyed the World Trade Center, there were some who said this was God’s judgment on New York City. And after Hurricane Katrina’s devastation, some said this was His judgment on New Orleans. But I don’t agree with that.
In the New Testament, Jesus one day addressed a local tragedy that was a “current news story” at the time. A tower had collapsed in Jerusalem, killing 18 men. Referring to that incident, Jesus asked His listeners this question: “Do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem?” Then He answered it: “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:4-5).
Had those 18 men fallen under some special, targeted judgment from God? No, Jesus was saying. The bottom line is people die. And even worse than the physical death – which happens to us all – is the eternal spiritual death that happens if we don’t repent of our sin.
Tragedies happen. Wars happen. Accidents happens. Illness happens. Cancer happens. We live in a broken, fallen world, and nobody’s exempt from the effects of that. Everybody dies.
This doesn’t mean God is unfair. It doesn’t mean He has singles out anybody for special judgment. If I die, it just means it was my time to leave this earth. And that moment will come to everybody.
The Bible says, “It is appointed unto men once to die” (Hebrews 9:27, KJV). Each of us has an appointment with death. Each of us has an advance reservation for the journey of leaving this world for an eternal destination. There’s a ticket marked with your name and the time of your departure.
This is not a gloomy, pessimistic view – if you belong to Jesus Christ. If you’re a Christian, the thought of inevitable physical death is flooded with hope! Because you know that when you pass from this life, you’ll step immediately into the majesty and radiance of the Lord’s immediate presence, and you’ll live with Him forever. What’s not to like about that?
In the New Testament, the apostle Paul once wrote these words from prison: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” He said more about what was good about continuing his life in this world, but he also added that “to depart and be with Christ … is far better” (Philippians 1:21-23). Paul’s attitude wasn’t one of resignation: “Well, if I’ve got to die, I’ve got to die. Not much I can do about it.” No, to Paul, dying meant coming out ahead in the game. It meant stepping forward into the best existence imaginable. For Paul, entering the presence of the Lord Jesus wasn’t just “better”; it was “far better”!
The simple truth about our planet is that tragedies have wracked humanity ever since Adam and Eve were pushed out of the Garden of Eden, and tragedies will continue to touch our lives as long as we walk this earth.
But be aware of the even greater tragedy – of failing to repent of your sins and to come to Jesus Christ for His forgiveness and His gift of eternal life. To fail in that is to be locked into tragedy forever.
Greg Laurie’s ministry information and more can be found at Harvest Online.