“Risen Lord, be known to us in the breaking of the Bread. Amen.”
“Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”
-The Words of Christ in John 17:1-5.
We had a great discussion this afternoon! All of us brought more and more ideas to the table.
First, We discussed world religions and how they are similar but different to the Christian worldview. Most of the religions of the world teach that we have to do something in order to climb the ladder towards deity or salvation whereas Christianity has always taught quite the opposite. We do not go to God but God comes to us. He meets us where we are at. God came into the world as a man. He took on humanity as a second nature without ever giving up his deity. Christ was God before he ever set foot on earth. Remember the words of John concerning Jesus, “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…” (John 1:11-12)
Second, We spent a lot of time discussing why a good God allows evil. There are a couple of things to remember when discussing this issue. First, the problem of evil is just that, a problem, and not just for Christians but for everyone. Everyone has the burden of explaining evil-what it is, why it is, and what we can do about it if anything. I do not know of anyone who actually denies there is such a thing. We substitute terms like “bad” or “not good” or “unhealthy” but we all assume there is such a thing. Second, Christianity as well as other major religions such as Judaism and Islam have lasted thousands of years embracing the notion that God is good, perfect, all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing, and evil exists. This is nothing new so let us seek answers because surely there are plenty of people who have thought this through and remained even stronger Christians to this day. Third, evil can actually be an argument for God’s existence. C.S. Lewis as well as many Christian thinkers throughout time were brought to faith in God based on their own moral disputes. Lewis thought to himself one day, “This is evil” but he slowly began to ask himself how he could know what such a thing was without believing in the good. He then found himself face down before God realizing that he was “sitting in God’s lap while slapping him in the face.” meaning-denying God’s existence while having flaws or shortcomings in his own view concerning the nature of things like good and evil per se. Fourth, Christianity has long taught that God allows evil, but allowing evil and encouraging it is different. Permitting evil is not at all the same as creating it. God made all things well. Everything created by God in one sense is good but it is when things fall short to their purposes that evil comes into the picture. Adam and Eve were in the garden and as soon as they disobeyed God by eating of the forbidden tree they then understood what evil was and they felt the results of it-being separated from God. God allows the potential of evil because his creation is perfect. He has the power to end evil and has through Christ defeated it but will in the consummation of all things end evil forever with the new heavens and the earth. He has his reasons for allowing it to continue at the present. We will someday perhaps know why or perhaps it won’t matter when in heaven.
Finally, Christianity has long taught that through suffering we develop virtue. God has a purpose for permitting suffering. This isn’t our home, we were made for eternal life with God which God is bringing through Jesus Christ. Jesus reminds us, “Do not store for yourselves treasures on earth where moth destroys but store for yourself treasure in heaven where moth cannot destroy.” If it weren’t for suffering then how could one learn patience? or kindness? or fortitude? or temperance? or prudence? or charity? joy? peace? fidelity? honesty? Suffering produces some good which is God’s intention. It brings us closer to Him. It brings us to our knees to honor and bring him glory. The Good News is this, Christ has abolished the power of sin and death and evil. We are free in him. Christ will ride upon his white steed in the end of days and vanquish evil from the face of the earth and we will ride triumphantly with him down the battlefields singing beautiful hymns of praise. We will find rest at last, there will be no more pain. CHRIST HIMSELF SUFFERED FOR US, HE BEING OUR EXAMPLE WAS NOT EVEN SPARED, HE BROUGHT GOOD OUT OF A MISERABLE DEATH! WHAT GREATER EXAMPLE OF LOVE CAN YOU FIND?
O Death! Where is your sting now? My Lord has conquered you and we will all rise to the Son on the last day!