All of us, assuming that everyone reading this is human, have asked some difficult questions throughout our lives. I want to say this is in love and as a person blessed by God: It is O.K. to ask the hard questions! Don’t think for a second that asking God the tough questions is going to offend Him. A couple of “biggies” that come to mind are as follows:
• If God is so good, how can He allow natural disasters?
• If God is such a loving being, why doesn’t He protect the innocent?
• Why do bad things happen to good people?
• Why do so many “good” people suffer and so many jerks prosper?
• If God created everything, then why does evil even exist?
This is a minefield of theology and we already know that our minds will never, ever comprehend in its entirety the true nature of all things created. But, I want to give a couple of examples that should clarify at least the questions if not touch on the answers in a general way.
We can all relate to the following example. Either you have children or you (assuming you are from planet earth) have been a child. As a parent, if I tell my 6-year old not to play in the street, I am doing this to protect them. The child may not understand why I will not permit them to play in the street. I may take the time to explain to them that cars moving at 4o miles per hour will probably do some significant damage to their little body. I could show my 6-year old a video of other children getting run over by cars. I could just say, “Don’t play in the street because I said so!” No matter how I breach the subject, the fact remains that I don’t want any harm done to my child. What if one day my child decides to disobey me while I have my back turned talking to a neighbor, and plays in the street. My child gets run over by a car and killed. Am I to blame for my child’s death? Was it my fault that they got run over? Of course not! But why then do we do this to God? God has laid out a system of rules and mandates for us to follow. We decide we know better than God, get run over by life, and then blame God for letting us get run over! So when you take an honest assessment of the dangers in life, listen to the best advice available, and then turn around and choose to do otherwise, who really is to blame? I know this is simplistic, but it is true. Think of all the scenarios where we chose to do the wrong thing and then complain about how unfair life is. Ouch! I know, I know, it hurts to hear the truth sometimes.
One of the paradoxical mysteries to life is called free will. We will discuss this free will in the chapter on love. But part of free will is contained in the expression itself, mainly, freedom. We have the freedom to choose as we please. God made us this way for a reason and we will explore the magnificence of this design later in the book. For now, let us understand that we are not living in a friendly world. According to the Bible, our world is a fallen creation, Satan is in charge at present, and we can expect a hard go of it. It would violate God’s law of free will for Him to superimpose His will upon ours and it would be unreasonable of us to expect Him to “control” everything that happens in a cruel world not of His design.
It is not His desire to have us living in a dangerous, painful, and unfair world! So when we want to look up to God and shake our fists at Him and demand an explanation from Him, we should stop and understand two things: number one, He agrees with you and invites the emotional response to the absence of justice, and number two, He eagerly awaits the time when He can heal all our woes. God has laid out a plan for redemption where all tears will cease, where death will be no more, and where all sadness will be turned into joy. Until that time, we must come to grips that evil has its hands tightly clasped around this earth. It is not God’s fault. We decided to play in the street against His wishes.
Let us compare life in a fallen world to a rainy day. For my example, let us consider a rainy day as a bad day. God intended life for us to be a sunny day, full of fellowship and protection and love, peace and joy. When we chose to do things our way, it began to rain. Satan loves the rain; he loves to hurt God by hurting us (getting us all wet). Satan knows that the best way to hurt God is to hurt the ones God loves. We are caught in an epic battle for our souls. I hate this fact about life, but the sooner we wake up to the reality of this war above all wars, the sooner we can put things into their proper perspective. God understands that it is raining, so through Christ He provides us with a divine umbrella, raincoats, and galoshes. Now God says to us every morning, “Don’t forget to dress for rain today. Make sure you take your umbrella.” In this story, the preparation for walking in the rain can be compared to what Paul refers to as “putting on the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 5:10-18). So God has appropriated a means to fight getting wet. If we choose to go walking in the rain without our galoshes, raincoats and umbrellas, do we have the right to get angry with God and complain about getting wet? Of course not, we knew darn well that it was raining and made the choice to go without our protective gear! God wishes it weren’t raining, but because Satan makes it rain, God gives us the protection we need to survive it. We are so stubborn. God tells us to talk to Him every day and take advice and get our bearings by putting on our galoshes (prayer), God asks us to put on our raincoats by learning directly from Him how to love (worship), and God gives us the umbrella of His Word if we will only open it up (the Bible). Note: umbrellas don’t work unless you open them up! My friends, don’t make the mistake of blaming the rain on God, and don’t make the mistake of blaming God for getting wet! Let’s take the example one step further.
If we do everything that God asks us to do for our own good and don the rain gear, does that mean the skies will clear and it will stop raining? No. So why do we think for a second that becoming a Christian means that God will make our rain go away? In fact, nothing does Satan’s heart more good than for us to blame the rain on God or to blame God for our getting wet. Evil does not play by the rules, and evil thrives on the tactic of deception. Two major deceptions in the world are these: number one, neither God nor Satan really exist; number two, that God is responsible for the human condition and doesn’t really love us. Don’t we all need someone else to blame?
We are going to explore the richness of a spiritual relationship with God. We are going to get acquainted with His incredible promises. We are going to see the hope that He has set before us. And we are going to explore the depths of His love and appropriation for us. Let us understand that His invitation to an unplugged life is an invitation to a spiritual life. What God wants to do for you will completely obliterate all of your preconceived notions of what a Christian life is supposed to be. Wouldn’t it be nice to understand that our real lives are preserved above the rain clouds? What if I told you that you could be someone’s sunny day while standing in the rain? What if I told you that we have settled for a cheap imitation of Christianity? What if I told you that what Christ really wants for you is a life of victory and freedom? And what if I told you that even our definitions of victory and freedom are probably way off base?
Before we move on to Chapter Two, I have to say a few personal words for your encouragement and hope. God has blessed me with an intimate relationship with Him. This relationship eclipses everything in life. I must admit that for whatever reason, few actually find the “narrow way”. I want to take you there. But let it be known, it will not be me; it will be the Holy Spirit doing the leading. There is a strange phenomenon to the way God works: He always uses average, ordinary people to convey His messages to others. God in His omnipotence has decided to involve us in His plans. It is our honor to serve in this capacity! It is also humbling. When one passes from knowing about God and moves into actually knowing God, it changes the whole game. We absolutely must stop trying to figure God out and allow Him to reveal Himself in our heart and spirit. I want, more than anything else in my life, to lead people to the living waters; there is no other desire in this lifetime more important to me than pointing the way to eternal life that can start today; and I can think of no greater honor than to introduce a person to a living, wonderful, loving, and very real God.
This is the conclusion of Part Two, Chapter One of “A Life Unplugged”. This chapter is entitled “God Unplugged”; if you missed the first two parts of Chapter One, you can click on these links to them: First Section, God’s Signature, Second Section The God of Our Misunderstanding. Chapter Two will begin early next week. God bless you!!!!