Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Does God break us? - part 2

This is a continuation of the post “Does God break us?”

Instead of viewing tragedy as the direct work of God on our lives I believe that all tragedy is the result of sin. Sin is anything that is opposed to God, which is why I say that tragedy is not the direct work of God. (Is there a difference between tragedy and change? Yes. In the future I would like to discuss this difference. For now I am viewing tragedy as the bad things that happen to us.)

There are three basic convictions that I hold to: God is good, God loves me, and God is great.
Anything good in my life is a gift from God (it is grace) – James 1:17. I do not have so many good things in my life because I am so good, or worked so hard or am so smart. I am blessed because God is good.
The creator of the universe loves me. In fact he loves me so much that willingly died in order to be in relationship with me. Instead of beating me over the head to crush me into submission Jesus lovingly invites me to be with him.
And the God who is loves me and is good to me is not powerless and weak. He is the creator and sustainer of everything. And there is nothing that rivals him.
If this is true why do Christians suffer?
Because humans and some angels have chosen to reject God and live for themselves. The result is that we live a broken planet. We could explore the idea of a broken planet, however I would like to get more personal.
Why do I suffer? Because I reject God and live for myself. Now I am a follower of Jesus. But it is amazing how many times every day I end up living for myself instead of God (Praise the Lord that he is so gracious and loving that he keeps holding me close to him, forgiving me). And when I live for myself I make a mess of my life.
Instead of tragedy being something that God brings on me, tragedy is something that I bring on myself. I know this is not the answer for all evil, but it does explain a lot of my suffering.
Tragedy is often the result of God removing his hand blessing from me allowing me to experience the consequences of my actions/thoughts/words. It is not God beating me over the head.
Does God use tragedy to change me? Absolutely. He is that amazing. He can take something evil and still work good. But that does not mean that he was the author of evil.

Picturing God in this way I am more prone to thankfulness and prayer. I want to be close to him.


Peter said...

Hi Ben,

I agree with all you say but I think it is incomplete. I don't think you can say someone's sin made them to be born with Nevus of Ota which predisposed them to Ocular Melanoma which then ultimately killed them. There needs to be a different answer.

I think we have forgotten systemic sin in our individualistic world view. Systemic sin is the tragedy that exists in the world because of all the sin that exists. This makes the world to be imperfect, it causes pollution etc which then causes cancer etc. Sometimes it is indirect sin that affects other people. E.g. I smoke, you get lung cancer.

Check out this link for Mark Buchanan's much better explanation:

It is still sin. The root of all tragedy.

Ben said...

Peter I agree with you. Too often we do see sin as too individualistic. "I can sin and it does not affect anyone else." Sin (even our private sins) affects others. So Adam and Eve eat the fruit and we all suffer the consequences. A guy runs a red light and kills my mom, my family suffers.
However what I was trying to counter was the popular belief that my suffering is the direct work of God.
So I talk with people who are going through a hard time. And they believe that God is doing it to them. But they don't see it as the natural result of how they live. Too often they don't recognize that their greed, alcoholism, selfishness, working too much, pornography... brought this suffering on them. Instead they say God brought it on them. So God becomes a "bad guy" who needs to be appeased. Once appeased he can ignored and life can go on like normal.
This by no means accounts for all suffering (or even most suffering). But it is important to note because it reflects how we see and understand God.

Good article by Mark Buchanan.