Tuesday, March 20, 2012

CP 168 "...the suspicion that God is not good."

CP 168 “…the suspicion that God is not good.”

“After everything I have seen, I tell you, God cannot exist.” (Headline – Sydney Morning Herald, March 10-11 2012.) These are the words of Ibrahim Ahmad Aloglah, a 38 year old family man from Syria who was horribly tortured by Syrian security forces during seven episodes of detention. He went on to say, “How can God allow a man like Assad (Syria’s President) to walk on this earth?” His despairing remark reminded me of a statement I once heard from the lips of Selwyn Hughes. In full it went like this; “The beginning of sin is the suspicion that God is not good.” I sat up and took notice. Hughes’s remark grabbed my attention? Let me explain why.

Have you ever heard anybody say that they can’t believe in a God who… let’s innocent kids die… allows 10,000 people to be killed in an earthquake… made my sister suffer so much before she died… didn’t answer my prayer…

Another version of it has people demanding to know what sort of a God would… have representatives who abuse children… are money hungry… would allow this or that injustice… turn a blind eye to the killing of innocent civilians… let a drought happen (or a flood) which destroyed the farm finances…?

When life seems to turn to crap the blame is often sheeted home to God, for either his actions, or for his inactions. Powerlessness in the face of adversity does focus our attention on the One who has all power. It is understandable and often necessary, in a time of crisis and distress, to cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It is only a short further step to blame God for our troubles, to accuse him of being behind our misfortune, to conclude that ‘God doesn’t care about me’.

Are you surprised that we humans so quickly point the finger at the Almighty. Think of Selwyn Hughes’ comment while you absorb the tempter’s words to Adam and Eve. Go back to Genesis 3. Adam and Eve were blessed to live in a garden world of the Lord God’s own creating. The Lord stepped back, beheld at it all, and declared that ‘it was very good. The tempter comes and puts doubt in the minds of that first couple. “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1) It wasn’t what God had said, and Eve told him so, including the warning that to eat from that one tree would lead to death! What happened next was the sowing of suspicion…

“You will not surely die, for God knows that you eyes will be opened, and you will be like God…” (3:4-5) The message is clear. ‘Adam and Eve, the truth is you can be like God and he is withholding that knowledge from you.’ The tempter sows suspicion that God is not good. He sows doubt about God’s goodness and good intentions. Adam and Eve act on this doubt and suspicion. The rest is history. Ever since, humanity has had in its heart a leaning, under pressure, to think that God is not good.

Jesus Christ is the ‘Rescue Mission’ mounted by the Lord God. He is the fulfilment of all of the merciful promises of God. In him, especially in the Cross, we measure how deep is the Father’s love for us. In his confrontation with the tempter he does not surrender to suspicion and doubt. He trusts, and unfailingly continues to trust, in the goodness of his Father. His faithfulness, even into death, allows our forgiveness. And we then have a challenge.

We are called to trust. We who honour the name of Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord are called to be unflinching in our loyalty. We are called to champion the gracious and merciful, holy and loving heart of ‘God for us’. Yes, there will be dark times during which there will be much we cannot understand. And yes, there may be times when we fail. And yes, our failures will be covered by his unfailing forgiveness. His Spirit, working through the Word sown in our hearts will strengthen us. So let us not surrender.

Let’s not surrender to the strong voices which declare that God is not good. Let’s not capitulate to those voices for our sake AND their sake! Let’s keep the faith. Let’s not agree with Satan. Let’s keep declaring the praises of him who called us out of darkness into eternal life. Let’s keep upholding the truth that the heart of God the Father is revealed on Calvary. Let’s be a people with Spirit-drive who draw even more people to the Saviour. And let’s be among those who will receive the crown of life.

And let that be enough for today…Sorry I got carried away!

Fred

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