Questions: Evil

Every Thursday I take a question asked by one of you and do my best to respond to it. If you are interested in having your question answered by me you can post a comment on this post or shoot it off to my email Today’s question comes from Kristie.

I guess my biggest question is why does evil exist? why is it that when your a very strong christian but seems no matte how hard you try evil is still stronger sometimes?

So I could write a book of about 500 pages in length and still not totally satisfy the answer to the issue about evil. There have been exhaustive studies on thew nature and problem of evil and still the question persists. Why is there evil in this world?

One thing that all people of all different worldviews can easily agree on is the existence of evil in this world. That’s not usually up for debate. People rob banks, folks are murdered, rapes and molestation happens to innocent parties, this is a messed up broken world in which we live. Even beyond the big things though we have people in our lives that make life difficult by lying, spouses cheat, kids get into fights, on a large and small scale evil exists of that there is no question.

A lot happens in the beginning of the bible, the creation of the world, the first humans and most importantly, the fall. Some take a literal view of these events and others, like myself, see this story as a metaphor for deep spiritual truths. Either way one thing is clear, according to the bible evil was not originally a part of the master plan for this world. The plan was for all things to be ‘good’. We as humans were meant to be in harmony with God, we were made to enjoy him and for him to enjoy us. There was nowhere in this world that God wasn’t, there was no separation between God and man.  I want to be careful when I say this because I am not a pantheist who believes that God is everything, nor am I a panentheist who believes that God is IN everything. God is separate from his creation but he exists but outside and within it. This idea is handled beautifully by NT Wright in his book Simply Christian and this idea will become important in a moment.

Somewhere along the way Man committed the first sin. The word simply means to miss the mark, something was done that wasn’t a part of the plan. The bible speaks of Adam and Eve eating of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, whether or not you think this was a literal even or not man was trying to become something that he was not meant to be. Man wanted to know things that he was not designed to know. At this point is when things shifted in our world from how they were supposed to be to how they are now.

The entire literary scope of our bible tells the story of God’s rescue operation. It’s a love story between our creator and us it’s about God choosing a people that from which the 2nd Adam would come from. The story culminates in Jesus whom we have 4 gospels written about. He takes the sin of the entire world onto himself and dies a criminals death on the cross. The story doesn’t end there though many believe that it does, the reason the story doesn’t end there is one of the main reasons I am a Christian, the resurrection.

With the resurrection God through Jesus begins a work that will someday end all evil, death and suffering. But that’s Sunday’s news, Kristie, your question has to do with Friday’s events, why is there evil? Why is it so powerful?

There is evil because this world is in a state of brokenness, we are a depraved people not only because of what we do but because of who we are. Sin isn’t just our actions against God which all of us are guilty of but it is also the condition which we were born into. This world is broken and that affects everything in it. Why are their murders? Because the world is broken. Why is the cancer? Because the world is broken. Why do bad things happen even to those who follow Christ? Because the world is broken.

But I believe, and I hope, and I trust that God already knows and has seen the end of the story. Remember when I mentioned that God exists both outside and inside of this creation? I really believe that. Whatever heaven is, wherever it exists I believe it parallels our world here. God and heaven exist separate from this world and from that vantage God knows all that has happened, is happened and will happen. I believe in some ways God see’s the fall, and the culmination described in Revelation 21 in one single glance.  But that same God isn’t witnessing all of this as a disinterested spectator, he has again and again come into this world, into our space time, and assisted and directed the events here. If nothing else Jesus is a stunning example of that.

There are forces at work against all of this though, make no mistake that it is a war we are in and that’s why sometimes it can feel like evil is much stronger than good. It is also why it can seem that God is so distant, but it helps me top remember the end game, my faith and hope and trust is in he who has begun a good work in me. I believe that he will complete it, I believe that I am already, even in my sinful nature, a new creation. Nothing that this world can do will surprise God, he is in control.

I hope that this has been helpful.





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