To non-religious spiritual pursuers and my kids (Click FOLLOW for future Posts; See ABOUT THIS SITE tab to navigate Site)

Archive for October, 2010

Why Did Jesus Really Die On The Cross?

I have never quite understood why God needed to be appeased by a human sacrifice, especially His own Son! This was the way of the Old Testament gods. Can God only love me fully after sacrificing His Son to satisfy His sense of justice and soothe His anger? Is the emphasis of Scriptures on God’s wrath toward us or His love for us? Does God hate the sinner or the sin?

Was the Cross God’s attempt to persuade us to follow His Son’s example to trust God to overcome the power of sin in our lives or was the Cross  mainly for substitution reasons – God demanded death as a penalty for our  sins to appease His sense of justice and as a way to escape Hell? Any biblical passage in isolation can be used to defend either point of view. I am not denying Jesus’ death in some ways substituted for the consequences we deserve as a result of our self-centeredness, but I believe the Cross is so much more about God’s love than His wrath and how we can have victory over sin.

The Cross is not a revelation of God’s revenge but His compassion. The Cross is not to change God’s attitude toward us but our attitude toward God.  The Cross was not to pay some penalty but to provoke repentance for our gain. God is not concern with the guilt of our sins but with the restoration of the relationship. God does not need to be reconciled to us; we need to be reconciled to God.  God’s focus was on the power of sin over us, not our sins. God did not need to be appeased and His Honor restored before He could love us. 

  • The Cross is an invitation to a friendship with the Creator and all the grandness that includes and not merely to escape Hell
  • The Cross visibly demonstrates the destructiveness of sin and that forgiveness is never without a cost
  • The Cross displays God’s wrath not against the sinner to hurt them or justify Himself but against sin that controls us
  • The Cross gives God moral authority and credibility with humans, for God knew that He must go to  incredible lengths to convince us 
  • The Cross is the undeniable proof that God loves us more than we can imagine and hopefully moves us to  love others as God loves us
  • The Cross is an act of a loving God, not an act of appeasement from an angry God, so we might feel free from guilt and have our longing for forgiveness satisfied
  • The Cross enables us to know God sees us as Christ, as our sins are nailed to the Cross,  so we can be comfortable in His presence
  • The Cross expresses God desires not for a legal settlement of our guilt but  for a restored, personal  relationship
  • The Cross encourages us to enter a relationship with God which is our only hope to break the power of evil over us
  • The Cross demonstrates that we must trust God, as Jesus did, than believe in Satan’s lie as Adam and Eve did
  • The Cross was Jesus’ attempt to influence us to follow in His footsteps to trust in God, than our own wisdom, to save ourselves 
  • The Cross was because God loved us and not so He could love us
  • The Cross was not God’s desire for vengeance but reconciliation,  so we might turn from ways of harming ourselves and others
  • The Cross was not God’s abandon of Jesus but Jesus feeling the full force of sin as we might in dark moments – “God, why have you forsaken me”
  • The Cross was not to satisfy some need in God at the expense of His Son but to satisfy a need in us at His expense
Advertisements

God, Why So Much Suffering?

We can expect God’s ways to be more comprehensible than incomprehensible, because we are made in His image. God’s reprimand to Job in Chapter 38 was not because God is unexplainable but perhaps because Job assumed if you acted righteous, as he did, then you can aspect God’s blessings. Job’s friends assumed suffering was a direct result of individual sin. Both assumptions are misguided. To understand why God doesn’t stop more sufferings, we need to understand how a free world and God get along

God allows suffering because He values freedom. God is not the originator or orchestrator of suffering. Suffering was not some grand scheme by God so He could ride in on a white horse and save the world. Suffering results from personal or natural evil. Much of suffering is either self inflicted or inflicted upon others by lawless and cruel people.  God allows suffering because genuine love can only emerge when one is free to reject it.  Parents, as God, attempt to persuade their children to reciprocate their love for their own benefit.  Suffering had to become part of God’s story if He was to allow freedom. 

God allows suffering resulting from evil because He values mercy and forgiveness. The alternative is instant judgment. God does not destroy at the first sign of opposition.  God tolerates evil than instantly judges, though justice is served eventually for victims, to change this chaotic world through their own free will.  God’s intervention to suffering resulting from evil is the slow, necessary way of the Incarnation. Jesus’ life and death was an attempt to persuade and empower as many as possible to treat others as they wish to be treated. Ask yourself – what kind of God sacrifices His life on the Cross so we can feel freedom from guilt, so we can be all God created us to be? 

God allows suffering as a megaphone to distract us from our own selfishness. It is not always wise to prevent our children from suffering consequences, whether self-inflicted or the result of a fallen world. Preventing suffering delays the growth process. Suffering enables us to not fall in love with temporal existence and love what the world offers.  As long as I am not looking to blame God for my suffering, I am a better person for the prayers He doesn’t answer than does answer. Suffering forces us to look to God and His perfect ways, which happens most often during adversity than prosperity.  

God allows suffering as a megaphone to enable us to better serve others.  It is not necessarily true that if God instantly stop all suffering, the world would be a better place. After a miracle, many just go back to their old self-centered ways as if the miracle never happened. Jesus’ sufferings than miracles is what really changed hearts. Our sufferings than healings can do the same in the lives of others. Undeserved suffering, such as insults, can make us more sensitive to others in similar situations. Personal sufferings enable us to be trusted by others, because we have “walked in their shoes.” We can trust Jesus because He has faced and conquered all the adversities we face.

The truth is we will never be satisfied until there is no suffering at all. What is sicker or more evil than torturing and killing millions of people simply because of their nationality or the family they were born into? What is more horrible than when an adult sexually abuses a young child for years, threatening them if they tell anyone of their dirty little secret? Evil is evil, regardless of the magnitude or how many humans are impacted. God’s constant interference according to His or our standards would make a farce out of freedom.

Many may assume God is causing or controlling their suffering, thus focusing on “why or what is God punishing me for.” Tragedy is hard enough without wondering if God is out to get you or “God, do you really love me?” God does not lose control because sufferings are not caused or controlled by Him. It can be more comforting that God does not cause our suffering, that God grieves when we suffer, that not even God avoided suffering though He could have, that God will walk hand-in hand with us through any tragedy and work to bring some good from it (though he does not orchestrate evil to accomplish this), that God promises an end to suffering as He has conquered death. 

How we answer “Why, God?” in times of distress is critical to our relationship with God. We are tempted to blame God for suffering rather than receive His comfort. God forbid disputable understandings of God’s role in suffering drive people to unbelief or despair. If we accept God does not cause suffering, we may still need to understand or accept how God has chosen to respond to suffering. He obviously does not stop a great deal of sufferings. God not interfering with suffering may be the only way to love the greatest number of selfish people back to unselfishness while preserving freedom.   People depend more on God during uncertain times. Dependence than independence from God is always a better thing because of who God is. 

God – Explainable Or Incomprehensible?

It is reasonable to expect God’s ways to feel rational to the human emotions and make logical sense to the human mind, since we are made in His image. God’s ways surely are more comprehensible than incomprehensible. Questions often dismissed as unanswerable may be answerable. This viewpoint may empower us to reach more effectively those who seek to know our God better. All we can do is strive to the best of our ability to understand what God’s inspired writers of the Older and New Testament recorded for their readers and future generations.

Job seems to get a tongue slashing in Chapter 38. Why was God being so tough on a man described as “blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil (1:8).” We want to be careful making too many parallels from Job’s story in our own lives. We should not assume all suffering from evil is some cosmic play between God and Satan. The book of Job does seem to clearly teach to avoid a common assumption when encountering evil. Friends of Job assumed he had some sin in his life that Job needed to repent of in order to avoid further punishment by God.  Always blaming evil or pain and suffering on individual sin is misguided. Lack of physical or materials blessings is not evidence of lack of God’s love as maybe Job begin to feel.

Did God gave Job a tongue lashing because he attempted to understand God and His ways or because Job assumed God only loves you if He doesn’t allow suffering to invade one’s life? [i.e. daily petal Christianity]  It is true no evil has free rein unless allowed by God. But, if we demand God punish immorality instantly or not even allow freedom, are we not judging Him as to how to deal with a world free to love or rebel against Him? Is this where Job strayed when God became annoyed with him? Do we humans actually know better to run a world given freedom to follow or rebel against their Creator?

We should not assume that God responds to evil in the same ways we might. Job was not accusing God of being responsible for evil, but Job eventually wore down and maybe questioned if God cared since God didn’t stop the suffering in his life. Least we be too judgmental of Job, remember he did not have the vantage point readers do about the cosmic warfare between the Creator and the Evil One. In the midst of suffering it can help to understand that God cares and has not lost control. Maybe Job, as we might, began to assume God didn’t care when all his problems were not being wiped away.

Misguided freedom, whether diabolical or human, does not create a fair world for God or humans.  Most of suffering results from personal or natural evil. Freedom gone awry has cause progressive deterioration both of human nature and the physical world.  God allows suffering because genuine love can only emerge when one is free to reject it. God by nature is a merciful and forgiving God. The alternative is instant judgment without mercy or forgiveness. We sometimes demand instant justice for all accept ourselves.  God did not opt out of suffering Himself. We will not always know why God does or doesn’t interfere. We must ultimately accept as Job that God is more capable of running the universe where freedom is allowed than us. Suffering had to become part of God’s story if He was to allow freedom. God’s ways may not always be our ways, thankfully. Maybe God doesn’t interfere with evil because of His Character!

Tag Cloud