Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Crossroads by Cathy Bryant Book Blast (Guest Post)
Every one of the Miller's Creek novels (Christian romance and romantic suspense) took root in my head because of a spiritual theme. The latest book CROSSROADS took on even more importance because of its theme of winning back those who have defected from the faith.
We all know someone--maybe a friend, co-worker, or even a family member--who has turned away from the faith in Christ they once professed.
During the course of the story, I tried to examine their objections to the faith as well as the tough questions we're often asked by unbelievers. This devotional guest post attempts to answer one of the most frequent questions: Why does God allow evil? This question is also often phrased this way: If God is so good and loving, then why do bad things happen?
Not at all for the sake of argument, I hope instead that my research on this topic provides each of us with answers we need to "...make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence." (1 Peter 3:15).
The Problem of Evil - An Analogy
A heavy gray curtain veiled the morning sky. Then, in a mere heartbeat, between leaden skies and lofty mountain top a small sliver of light appeared, bursting forth in all is glory, illuminating the dark morning.
Isn’t it comforting to know that no matter how dark it gets, how stormy it seems, the sun is still there, temporarily hidden from view, still shining its light, day after day after day?
The same glorious effect can be noticed in a dark room. It can be so dark that you literally cannot see your hand in your face, but one tiny flame can dispel that darkness.
We’ve all been there, haven’t we?
At some point in our lives, the happy bubble we lived and played in as children breaks, and suddenly we are very much aware of dark and foreboding evil everywhere we look. Sometimes it gets so dark we wonder if the light is still there and if we’ll ever escape the darkness.
My hope and prayer for this blog post is that I can lay forth some evidence that will help us understand this present darkness in which we live. I hope to prove that the sun is still there, that all we see is temporary and fleeting, that beyond this darkness is everlasting day, much like what we experience when we soar above dark clouds in an airplane.
For this post, it is necessary to lay a little groundwork first, to prove the truth and authenticity of the Bible. No book has been more scrutinized beneath the microscopes of men throughout the ages. No book has had more of its prophetic utterances come to pass. No book has held the power to impact millions of lives. No book has so much archaeological evidence supporting it. No book, written by forty men over several hundred years–all from different backgrounds, cultures, and educational levels–has been so consistent in its message. The Bible is Truth and God’s message to man about the character of God and His redemptive plan.
All that God created was good. Early on in the story of creation, we see God–that great Power behind the moral code that exists within each of us–exerting His power and speaking our current world into being. After each day, God proclaimed His work to be “good.” The only exception to this pattern is the sixth day, the day in which God created mankind. Instead of just good, He declared His creation to be “very good” (Genesis 1:31). In other words, it was perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
We can learn a lot about the nature of God in this early account of our world. We don’t see Him haphazardly slapping a few ingredients together to make the universe. Nor do we see Him tossing man to the ground and saying, “Okay, let’s see if you can survive in this place.”
Instead we are treated to a master artisan weaving an intricate and complex tapestry, making man in the image of Himself, breathing His very life into man, placing Adam and Eve in a paradise that would provide all they needed, and walking with them in the cool of the day. Even when the two 'mess up,' God seeks them out from their hiding places and lovingly fashions clothing to cover them.
The Background of Evil
Before we get to the interaction between forces of evil and mankind, I think it’s important to realize where evil started. Besides this created world, there is also God’s dwelling place in heaven and an angelic army at His disposal.
One of these angelic beings–overcome by pride in his own personal beauty and his desire for power–was cast to the earth. Demoted. (You can read about it here: Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:11-17; Luke 10:18). As you can well imagine, this cherub who once enjoyed the splendor of heaven isn’t at all happy about his demotion. He knows full well his time is limited, so he is doing all he can to make earth a miserable place to live and to deceive as many people as possible into taking his side in the conflict.
The Advent of Evil
In Genesis 3 of God’s message to the world we see this fallen creature–Satan, the devil, the embodiment of evil–begin his attempt on earth to bring man under his power. And he succeeds. Through lies, trickery, and an appeal to man’s free will, Eve and Adam both succumb.
That one compromise, that one seemingly tiny event, changed the course of human history. Evil entered the world, and all succeeding generations became genetically disposed to sin, which simply put, is rebellion against God and His goodness.
The Course of Evil
From then on out in the Bible, we see God’s attempt to put things right and Satan’s equal determination to keep the power on his side. In other words, we are in the midst of a civil war. There is a spiritual war going on around us and inside us–yes, in case you haven’t noticed, evil isn’t confined outside us–it’s also within.
But there is great good news: God sacrificed His only Son–Jesus Christ, God with skin on–to take care of our sin problem once and for all. All we have to do is accept this gift by faith and hand our lives over to His control.
For now, we still live in enemy-occupied territory. Our faith and relationship with other believers is the insurrection against evil, the revolution if you will, that will one day culminate with a battle in which our Savior reclaims what is His once and for all and throws the enemy of our souls into a pit from which there is no escape.
The Arguments Against This Truth About Evil
It's been my personal experience that those who disagree with this explanation of evil can become quite antagonistic and argumentative about man's free will. In this sort of circumstance, it's clear to me that this person has bought into the lies of Satan.
But think about it. My free will allows me to write this post. The free will of another allows them to disagree, sometimes in anger. The very thing this type of person protests is what gives him or her the ability to protest. It's very much like sawing off a branch you're standing on.
My prayer is that we'll all be strengthened by God's Spirit to explain His Truth about evil in a gentle and respectful way. I also pray that we'll feel the importance of reaching out to even those who disagree with unconditional love and persistent prayer. May each of us ready ourselves to defend our faith.
*I have not read Crossroads therefore I can not give my opinion on it's content. ~ASC
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