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Friday, November 4, 2016

WHY DOES GOD ALLOW BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE?


WARNING: If your typical reading material is Dr. Seuss’ “Cat in the Hat” you may struggle with certain portions of this article. I would like to encourage you to give it a shot anyway. It contains what I believe to be life altering truths.

I’m not sure how it happened, but last night I found myself watching a youtube video of a corrupt pastor named David E. Taylor (David E. Taylor (Investigation). He runs Joshua Media Ministries International in Florissant, Missouri. In the video he was being drilled by an attorney over his alleged abuse of ministry funds.

Evidently, he doesn’t personally own anything, but his ministry (JMMI) is a multimillion dollar enterprise. He lives in a 2.8 million dollar mansion that he calls–a “residential center”.

He was questioned about the $30,000 he spent on clothes in 2013-14. He said, “Oh, God. Yes. I traveled a lot that year. I sweat right through my clothes.” He spent $3,500.00 at Versace in the Bahamas. He spent over $6,000.00 at a Louis Vuitton on another occasion. He said that was for belts and shoes.

His ministry owns a Mercedez Benz and a BMW. He has a Bentley whose title is in someone else’s name. He also leases a Range Rover.

They asked him about the $50,000 he paid to a business called “Limo Land”. He said that was so he could convert the ministry’s Mercedez into a limousine. It was needful for transporting their “high profile” guests.










When the attorney asked him why he needed all those top end vehicles, he nonchalantly said, “They’re just cars.”

Honestly? I felt sick while listening to him. I felt a little sorry for my poor, pathetic self. Here I am scraping pennies and this cat is pouring through money like it’s water. There’s rarely a day that goes by where there’s not a financial burden on my family and church. We are typically only one emergency away from a financial crisis and here’s a ministerial charlatan spending more money on clothes in one year than I gross in two.

“God. You know what I’d do with that type of money. I’d change this city. I’d provide shelter for the homeless. I’d feed the hungry. I build a youth center. I’d create housing for abused and battered women. Lord, I’d ...” Blah. Blah. Blah. Aww. Poor Davie Wavie! Your life is so bad!

In my defense, my pity party only lasted about thirty seconds–I’m too blessed to be stressed and I know it. But it did bring two age old questions to the forefront of my mind:

        If God is good and all powerful, why does He allow good things to happen to bad people?

And even more importantly ...

        If God is good and all powerful, why does He allow bad things to happen to good people?

Believe it or not, there’s a fancy Theological word used for our feeble attempts at answering these questions–the word is Theodicy. It means: the vindication of divine goodness and providence in view of the existence of evil.

I first saw this word on a text from my dear friend, Todd Sloggett. At first glance, I thought it was a word he invented to describe Theological Idiots! (I’m still wondering about that! Haha.)

Here are the links to Brother Sloggett’s masterpiece sermon on Theodicy (When God Doesn’t Make Sense):

    Theodicy (Part 1): When God Doesn't Make Sense (Part 1)   
    Theodicy (Part 2): When God Doesn't Make Sense (Part 2)

Have you or someone you know ever asked questions like these:

    Why does God allow little children to be abused and molested? Why did God take my dad from me when I was just a baby? Why does God allow good people die so young? Why do good people die from such horrible diseases and in such horrible ways? Why do wicked men prosper and good men struggle?

Do these questions sound familiar to you? I’m sure they do because they aren’t new. We can even find these type issues in the Bible. For example, Asaph’s Psalm:

    Ps 73:1 Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.
    2 BUT AS FOR ME, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped.
    3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

    (I would recommend reading at least the first twenty verses of this Psalm.)   

Asaph had faith in God, but the prosperity of the wicked and his own struggles made him question God’s sovereignty in HIS life.
                   
If you are questioning God about His goodness and omnipotence, you’re not alone. We’ve all been there and I’m sure we will all go there again. But this is the reason Theodicy is so important. Regardless of how feeble our attempts are at answering these complex questions, we must at least try.

So here’s my feeble attempt at answering the question:

    If God is good; and if God is all powerful; why does He allow bad things to happen to good people?

FREE WILL AND THE WICKED HEART OF MEN

THE IMAGE OF GOD: In Genesis 1:26, the Bible tells us that God made man in His image. Unfortunately, men, without thinking the subject through, looked into the mirror, saw their physical frame and then made God into their image. They assumed it meant that God has hands, feet, a nose, reproductive organs, nostrils, nose hairs, lungs, a liver, finger nails, etc. just like them. But let me ask you this: Why does God need reproductive organs? He “speaks” things into existence. Why would He need legs? He doesn’t have to “move”. He is every where at all times! Why would He need lungs? He doesn’t breath air. He is self-existent. Why would He need teeth, a stomach, or a digestive tract? He doesn’t eat or drink.

I know some of you are having a heart attack right now. You’re thinking of the verses that refer to God "moving", or to Him having hands and feet, or to smoke billowing out of His nostrils! I am thinking of a verse, too. Check this out:

    Ps 36:7 How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.

Do you envision God having wings? Flying around with white, bird-like appendages protruding out of His back? No. Me neither. God doesn’t have wings any more than He has hands or feet or eyes. These terms are known as “Anthropomorphisms” (an-thruh-puh-morf-isms).

An anthropomorphism (anthropomorphic terminology) is when human characteristics, particularly physical traits, are projected on God. The Bible describes God as having hands, feet, eyes, arms, etc so you I can understand Him better. He is also described as having wings so we can envision Him pulling us up close to Him, like a mother hen, sheltering us “under His wings”!

***You can also study the meaning of the words anthropopathic (an-thruh-po-puh-thick) or  anthropopathism. An anthropopathic term is one ascribing human feelings to God.

You and I are feeble flesh and blood, but according to St. John 4:24, God exists as supernatural, divine spirit. For the human mind to understand that is comparable to us comprehending the color 9H or a five sided triangle. God is too awesome for us to fully comprehend, yet we have a need to relate to the divine. It’s very difficult for us to approach Him if we can’t imagine Him. So God blessed us by describing Himself in a way that makes sense to us.

NOTE: The incarnation (death, burial, resurrection, and ascension) of Jesus Christ is another subject altogether. He is presently sitting on a throne in heaven in His glorified body and has been for the last 2,000 years. So I’m referring to God in His essence and how He is seen in eternity, before Christ’s incarnation.

When the Bible says God made us in His image, it is simply saying He made us to have free will moral agency like He does. He gave us the ability to think, to reason, to choose for ourselves. Man isn’t merely a body with a soul and spirit. Man is a soul (a mind) that lives in a body and has a spirit. When our body dies it goes back to dust, our spirit returns to God, and we (the soul) lives on, ever conscious of its surroundings.

    Ecc 12:7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.


God made Adam and Eve with a free will. They weren’t robots. They had the capacity to choose. Unfortunately, they made terrible choices. It’s been asked many times: “If God knew Adam and Eve were going to sin by eating the forbidden fruit, why did He place the tree of knowledge in the garden?” Great question! Now, let me ask one of my own. What’s the purpose of free will if we have no means to exercise that free will? The tree gave Adam and Eve the means to exercise their free will.

The amazing, mind blowing fact is God gave us free will and then stepped back, allowing us to exercise it. Though He woos and warns us, He typically refuses to manipulate or override our reasoning capacity. We are free.

GOD IS GOOD; MEN ARE WICKED: Since the very beginning, men have chose to exercise their free will in a variety of ways. Some choose to do good (like Abel), but most choose to do evil (like Cain).

The question “If God is a good, loving, and all-powerful being, why does He allow bad things to happen to good people” is actually the wrong question to ask.

The proper question to ask is “If God knew that men would exercise their free will to perpetrate evil on others, why did He give them free will?”

You need to understand, God is self-existent, therefore, has no need. He didn’t NEED to create man. He created us because He is gracious and loving. He chose to create and allow another entity besides His Son and Spirit to experience Him, that entity is humanity. He gave us free will because He didn’t want us to be machines. He wanted us to choose to love Him. He wanted us to want to love Him.

The bottom line is this: Everything wicked that has happened since Cain murdered his brother, Abel, has been perpetrated by men. The atrocities committed upon the innocent are committed by humans. Did God allow it? I guess you could make that argument. I see it differently though. I see God giving men a beautiful gift, but men have chosen to abuse it, using it to take advantage of the weak and innocent.

I hate to see people’s anger directed at God. God is good. God is kind. It is men that have perverted the plan of God upon the earth. It is men that have deviated from God's grace and love. It is men that have abused God's gift of free will! God grieves for the broken.

I also know that there is coming a day where all will be righted. Our just and righteous God will reward every man according to his works. Those that have hurt others will be brought to justice. Those that have abused the weak will suffer a tremendous price. The wicked shall be turned into hell! (Psalm 9:17).

FORGIVE, IF YOU CAN. IT WILL FREE YOU.

I want to see you free from the people and pain of the past. I want you to be at peace with yourself and your Creator. When those that are stronger than us take advantage of us we build walls of anger and hatred up to protect us from being hurt again. I have used anger as a weapon many times in the past, but as I get older, I'm seeing it more as a nasty noose, squeezing, choking me to death. Anger turns into bitterness. Bitterness grows. Roots spring out of it, wrapping itself around every part of our life, until it consumes us completely. Forgiveness frees us.

Forgiveness will free you.

Don't let the pain, the shame, the guilt of the past destroy your "now".

Don't let the fear of tomorrow, the anxiety of what "may" happen destroy your "now".

Forgiveness is us saying to the past, "You no longer have control over me. I'm setting myself free." 






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