God is good. The are three simple words but so many people in our culture refuse to believe. They believe, if they believe anything at all concerning the possibility of God, that He is actually quite evil. They figure if He is all-good and all-powerful then why doesn’t He do something to alleviate the pain and suffering that goes on in this world? Why doesn’t He end wars and destroy all that is evil?
Then there are those who believe that the problem with God is that there are Christians, and in His name Christians have caused wars, poverty, and all the other ills of this world. They point to the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the wars of Northern Ireland as proof that God’s followers are poor examples of His influence in their lives.
And if that isn’t enough there are those who have taken the time to skim the Bible and found all kinds of things in the Old Testament that offend their senses. If God is love then why the wholesale killing, the destruction of cities like Sodom and Gomorrah and the list goes on. And for good measure people ask questions like, “if God is good, how come He goes around zapping people all the time for going against Him?”
As Christians we have to understand that from the point of an outsider looking in, these are valid questions. Often, as Christians, we live in a cocoon where we are isolated and insulated against the prevalent cultures of our day. Our lives consist of going to church, hanging out with fellow Christians, and avoiding anything that goes against our preconceived ideas. We want to live in “the comfortable pew.”
It is amazing how many times I’ve met Christians who doubt their faith and have valid and important questions about God. And it is just as amazing how many times these people have been told that the problem is with them. They are told they need to pray more, have more faith, and just trust the church to know what is best. All of us could have more faith, pray more and be a little less skeptical of ecclesiastical authorities, but those are not practices that necessarily resolve doubts.
Every Christian should have some knowledge about the kind of questions that they are sure to be asked at some time in their lives and they should have answers. They don’t have to be long and complicated since most people are not trained Apologists, but they have to make sense to us. The North American church is piled high with bodies of former Christians that were blind-sided by questions that they couldn’t answer and as a result turned from God. It would do well for every church to teach basic Apologetics a couple of times a year to its congregation so as to prepare them for questions that come their way from a skeptical and secular culture.
However, our greatest need as Christians is to understand our relationship with God. If we know God personally through experience and trust, then many of these “got ya” questions people throw our way will have no power to overwhelm us. The basis of Christianity is to know God through His Son better. That means getting the Bible down off the shelf, opening it up and reading and studying. When we do that something amazing happens—we begin to understand.
As a pastor I’ve talked to a great many people who told me they couldn’t make sense out of the Bible and that was probably true. But I’ve never met anyone who has spent a great deal of time reading the Bible who has ever stated that the Bible is too difficult to understand.
If we wish to grow as Christians and strengthen our relationship with God we need much more than a once a week, thirty-minute sermon regardless of how good the speaker. We must pick up our Bible and read it. Find a Bible study group and join in, and if there isn’t one in your area, see if you can form one through your church. You don’t have to be a Biblical scholar to lead a group, just willing to learn and share.
Let’s make 2016 the year we dig deeper into the word of God, allowing the Holy Spirit to lead and direct our spiritual growth. As we study the Word of God we will grow deep roots of trust and assurance concerning the goodness and love of God. But, it will do more than that. As we grow we will find an overwhelming desire to share that love with others, and those will, more and more in our secular culture, involve skeptics and antagonists.
We shouldn’t ever be afraid of confronting our culture, but we need to be sure we are not fighting against windmills. I don’t think as Christians our role is to enroll in the cultural wars that can only divide and separate our society. We are called to present God’s grace to people who, without it, are lost.
Rich Mullins Creed
* Please take the time to read some of the stories of Christians who are experiencing persecution for their total commitment to Christ. They need our support and prayers.. http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…