Now before anyone starts to wig out here, no I haven’t gone off the deep end! I still believe in Jesus! I am not an atheist, but that’s a quote a recently read on social media and it got me thinking. What causes someone who at one point believed in Jesus to up and turn away? What causes a Jesus follower to no longer follower but reject? So I read on in his post.
The gist of the post was that he had seen things in his tours in the military. He saw things with his eyes that no human should ever have to witness. Death. Devastation. Torture. It was atrocious to say the least. He was basically asking can God really exist if all of these bad things happen in our world?
So let’s talk about it – Can God really exist if bad things happen in our world? Admittedly war time is awful. Death is terrible. What this man saw was undoubtedly worse than anything than most of us could imagine. And what’s worse is that this isn’t the only place where we’ve heard this kind of sentiment. There is evil in this world. Evil the likes of which many of us will never encounter. Children die of starvation. Parents neglect and even abuse their children. Husbands beat their wives. Wives cheat on their husbands. Men, women and children die a slow and painful death while cancer eats away at their bodies. Aging parents and grandparents forget who their loved ones are because their minds are being disintegrated by Alzheimer’s Disease. These are real. They are horrible. And if I’m being honest they all just suck!
But do these things mean there is no God? If we go back to the original premise it might be helpful. The idea was simple – how can a loving and merciful God allow things like Vietnam happen? It’s easy to throw bible verse after bible verse and Christian platitude at this situation, but let’s be honest – those won’t help! God has a plan is a phrase that just isn’t going to cut it when you’re watching someone being tortured in the most horrific of ways at the hands of other men.
But can we really blame God for bad things happening? I mean can God really be the reason Vietnam happened? True he could have stopped it. He could have locked us in the basement of life and not let us out. But blaming God for this atrocity is like blaming a loving parent for the errors of their grown children. Holding God accountable for the horrific actions of men and women around the world is like telling the mom who spent hours loving on her children and teaching them value and worth is found in Jesus that she’s responsible for the stupid mistakes of her children. We don’t blame a father who works hard providing for his family when his 40 year old son gets drunk and side swipes another car causing injury. We don’t accuse the 50 year old mom when her daughter makes a life choice that is completely contrary to how she was raised!
So why do we blame God? Why is the presence of evil construed as evidence of a lack of God’s presence? Bad things happen. It’s the way life works. If you want an explanation I’ll gladly give it to you. We call it sin, sinfulness, disobedience. Every time our children stepped out of line there was a consequence. Well the same is true in this world! When we walk away from God’s commands to love one another and serve one another, then there’s a consequence too. That consequence is that we’re given over to the passions of our hearts. And unfortunately the passion of man’s heart is evil. Plain and simple.
Don’t blame evil on God. Don’t blame the horrific nature of humanity on God. He created us perfect and warned us what happens when we don’t live inside the boundaries of right and wrong. That consequence is death. He doesn’t tell us how that death will happen just that it will. And that’s what we’re seeing. God doesn’t cause evil, but he does allow it. He allows it because that’s what we want. We tell him to get lost. We kick him out of our country and out of our schools and even out of our homes. If he stayed and manipulated the situations we’d call him a dictator! So he let’s life unfold for us. He doesn’t leave. He doesn’t make us go through these situations alone. As hard as it is to believe, God was there in Vietnam. He was in the buildings that collapsed on 9/11. He was there when the child was being beaten.
He hasn’t left or grown silent. We’ve just grown deaf to his voice. You want to know where God is? He never left! We just stopped looking. You didn’t make your child disobey anymore than God made evil exist in this world. No I’m not an atheist, and neither are you because saying you’re a card carrying atheist is saying that you are in charge of your own destiny which makes you God! I choose to worship the God who has the whole world in his hands and continues to call me back again and again. Perhaps if we stop and are quiet long enough we’ll hear him. You should give it a try.