Greetings Dear Reader,
The other day my closest friend posted the following ~ “Wond’ring aloud: Do we really acknowledge that every good thing in our lives comes from God?”
Our mutual friend Anne, whom we both love and respect politely asked the following:
Michael, I think you know that I am agnostic but spiritual, and I value and respect life in all its forms, the earth, nature and animals. I respect all religions, cultures, and people’s right to believe what they believe. I cannot stand for hate or extremism in the name of religion in any camp. I cannot stand for cruelty. I am asking this respectfully. This is something that I don’t understand: what about all the truly horrible things in life? I mean thinks like wars, terrorism, exterminations, children dying, people and animals being tortured to death, you name it. How do you account for all that in respect to God? If prayers worked, why would we continue to have such atrocities in the world? Why would you pray for mundane, personal things and say how good God is because he answered a personal prayer. What about the truly important things? Why would God allow such cruelty to endure but care about little personal things in life? Again, I am being genuine and asking this with respect. How can we say God is good when we see a beautiful sunset for example and ignore all the evil and pain in this world? Where is God for these truly important things? I know you can answer about man’s free will or the Devil or God working in mysterious ways. But then why would God bother about little personal things but not major bad things? I really do not understand how this disconnect can be overlooked.
It would be disrespectful and dishonest to attempt to answer Anne passingly or without honest reflection. We will discuss this and post responses here over the next few evenings.
First let me respond to the things with which I completely agree. Respect for life and other humans is vital to anyone who claims to believe that there is a God. If anyone claims to follow Christ as I do, then respect for life and treating all humans with love is required. Any hatred or violence associated with Jesus is a false representation of his teachings. As a foundation to this discussion, one must accept that Jesus makes a few ground rules that we must agree upon to answer the harder calls in Anne’s query.
Jesus made it clear that if we say that we follow him then we must love our neighbors, our enemies, and treat them all with kindness, respect, and generosity. Notice that Anne does this very well in her questions. There is no disrespect in her honest desire to understand the way this is all reconcilable. In fact, I would say that her questions reveal integrity and a desire for the truth.
As we walk through this together please understand that I do not have all the answers. For a deep dive on this I would recommend the book, Is God a Moral Monster by Paul Copan. The problem of evil is one with which we must deal if we are going to be honest about God and his relationship to man.
I am not going to offer any answers that are new or have not been addressed. What I will do if offer a loving gentle response to hard questions about faith and following. If you choose to participate in the discussion, please be aware no unkindness or harshness will be tolerated. If you post a derisive comment it will be deleted. If you treat anyone in the conversation with disrespect you will be removed from the conversation.
Those of you who share my faith, please pray that my responses are humble and kind. Pray that I represent the truth well. Thank you Anne for beginning this dialogue.
Wishing you joy in the journey,
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, “That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
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