If God created humans with the capacity for doing evil, was it worth the risk?
We all know from experience that love hurts. Death, rejection and rebellion can deeply hurt our hearts to its very core. A person could say that if a person never loved, they would never suffer.Yet, if a person never loved, they would never live.
There is always an element of risk to love. With hopeful hearts, we step out in love, recognizing the risks. The future potential of love returned drives us in determining the risk worthwhile.
God created the world out of love. He took the “risk” because he created us out of perfect love. Tragically, human history continually withdraws and turns its back on God. In the Old Testament book of Hosea, God portrays himself as one who is married to, and deeply in love with a wife who is repeatedly unfaithful to him. Though rejected, God still calls his people, his bride, back to having a faithful relationship with him. There lies the problem. Sin and disobedience has transformed perfection into evil. Imperfection has separated us from God and our world is suffering from its consequences.
God’s creation of the world was “risky” in that it involved him becoming human flesh and dying a horrible death on the cross. He loved the world so much that he was willing to take upon himself all the pain, rejection and the consequences sin produces so that we may receive an eternal relationship with him. Jesus died on the cross so humans could live eternally in the peace and joy of God (heaven). The promise given to us in Scripture is that heaven will be such a place that our present sufferings can never be compared to it. We must remember that we are mortal.
Our life on earth does not last forever. If there is no heaven, then all the sufferings, tears, and cries of the anguished will go unanswered. All the hopes, longings and struggles would come to nothing. In other words, the promise of heaven, made possible through Christ, makes all the sufferings in life worth it.
** This question and answer was inspired from the book, “Letters from a Skeptic” by Dr. Gregory A Boyd and Edward K. Boyd, Chariot Victor Publishing, 1994.
I just got home from Wal-Mart where my wife and I bought a new 18-speed bicycle for my daughter.
It was my daughter’s seventh birthday. I wondered what I could get her for a present. Maybe we could do something together. Something special.
I love to play golf. Due to lack of time and resources, I seldom play anymore. A favorite family activity is to set up a course around our house and play golf using a plastic golf ball. My daughter would be my caddie and carry my seven iron for me. In the evening, I would ask her, “What did you enjoy the most about today.” She immediately replied, “Being your caddy!”
On her seventh birthday, I gave her the invitation to be my caddy for nine holes at a nearby golf course.
The day arrived and you could tell my daughter excited.
We arrived at the course on a late October afternoon. I knew very few people would be on the course. After a few practice putts, we marched to the tee with great anticipation. I showed her how to place a golf tee into the grass and how to use a ball cleaner. After the first shot, we walked down the hole hand in hand while pulling the two-wheeled golf cart behind us.
There was a profound gladness in sharing this moment with my young daughter. Just me and her. Enjoying something that I dearly love. Sharing in something together.
Now, being a caddy does take some effort and concentration. She enjoyed pulling the pin out of the hole, handing me my putter, raking the bunker and writing my score on the scorecard. Sometimes, she needed some gentle reminding. “Sweetheart, don’t chase the seagulls.” “Honey, don’t walk through the sand trap.” “Sweetheart, don’t roll down the hill into the bunker.”
Upon reaching the eighth hole, my ball nestled deep into the greenside rough. It was too much for a seven year old to resist. My daughter decided to lie down spread eagle on the soft, cool grass only a few feet from the ball. With a smile and extra concentration, I somehow managed to chip the ball onto the green.
It truly did not matter at all to my young daughter whether I double-bogeyed or birdied, hit the ball into the water or a few feet from the pin. What seemed to matter most to her was simply being with her father.
It occurred to me that I received another example of the relationship we have with God. We were not created to be human “doings”, but human “beings.” It does not nearly matter as much to God, our Father, about how or what we are doing. What matters the most is being with Him and Him in us. By faith, we can come to God, “Abba” or “Daddy”, and be with Him — simply basking in His presence.
While the sun settled down in the west, creating an orange glow on the last fairway, my daughter and I strolled toward my ball that was sliced onto another fairway. She grasped my gloved hand, put her head on my arm and said, “Daddy, I love you!” “I love you too, sweetheart.”
With an insurgent swelling of peace and love, the sin of my slice was quickly forgiven and forgotten. Because I knew who I love and who loved me. Nothing else really mattered.
October 10, 2003
When the thought of witnessing Christ to others, we have a tendency to shrink back in fear. We easily succumb to our sinful flesh. To combat fear, we are given a solution in God’s Word. One of those solutions is to exercise our faith.
The Apostle Paul encourages us to “work out our salvation” (Phil. 2:11) by also stating in verse 13, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”
One of the glories of the Gospel is the new relationship we have with God through Christ. We no longer fear, based on what we have done or not done (sin), but we love and trust, based on what God has done for us. We are forgiven. We are perfect and acceptable children in his sight.
Our new relationship with God overcomes the bondage caused by the chains of fear.
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).” The perfect love we receive from Christ drives out all fear (1 John 4:18). So, when God expresses his desire in Scripture for us to carry out a task like witnessing, our new response in Christ is not one of fear or reluctant obedience, but an attitude of the heart based on love for our Savior.
When we are carrying out God’s purpose of sharing the true gospel of salvation; when we are regularly exercising our salvation with “fear and trembling”, there becomes within us a singleness of purpose in response to God’s grace. This is the Holy Spirit working in us. With God’s purpose in our heart and soul, there becomes a sense of adventure and a greater meaning in our lives. Not only is God being glorified by our words and actions, but the Holy Spirit transforms us into a new person and an effective messenger of grace.
There is power in the message
In my years of being a cross-cultural missionary, I am recognizing something more the Lord provides for us. Not only does God provide the message and the willingness to serve, but the Lord also gives us unique opportunities to be His witnesses. The Apostle Paul realized this truth when he recognized how doors were being opened by God’s hand to share the Gospel (1 Cor. 16:9). Paul also says, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.” (Colossians 4:5) This verse suggests a correlation between taking advantage of opportunities the Lord gives us and creating opportunities through our words and actions. With a spirit of adventure and new-founded purpose, we “go” out into the world. We interact with “outsiders” and allow the Lord to give us those unique opportunities to witness. Together, with the Holy Spirit, we deliver the Good News with confidence that the Word works and the Lord has prepared those hearts in advance.
Even though it is God who gives us the message and the opportunities, I still wish it were much easier. I wish that every time I shared the gospel the person would respond positively. I wish I didn’t get discouraged so easily. The Apostle Paul knew that God was the cause of all miracles of faith. His confidence rested on the simple, yet powerful message of Christ’s death and resurrection, not on himself.
Sharing God’s Word is not natural for any of us. It is quite unnatural. Like riding a bike for the first time, we are a bit shaky at first. Yet, over time, riding a bike becomes quite natural and something we never forget. With full knowledge and assurance that we have been chosen to be God’s instruments in carrying out his message, we respond with love, thanksgiving and a sense of willingness to be used by God. The Lord takes our willingness and provides opportunities specifically designed for us. A faithful servant has the confidence in knowing that God will provide everything we need to carry out His work. He provides the talent (however big or small), the message, the opportunities, and even the courage. Faithfulness becomes far more important than accomplishment, for the Lord is in control of results.
Continue to study God’s Word. Go and establish relationships of trust with unbelievers. Pray for opportunities to share God’s Word and be prepared to speak the truth in love with the sincere hope and trust you have in Jesus. At just the right time, at just the right place, God will use you. God is Immanuel. He is with us. His Word always works even though we may never see the results.
Overcoming the fear of witnessing Christ
Anybody who shares the gospel of Jesus Christ can be considered a cross-cultural witness. When Jesus says, “Go into the world”, we do not need to go very far because the world has come to us.
The intent of this weblog is to encourage and inspire all of us to “Witness Well” regarding our faith in Jesus Christ through our words and actions. Through the reliance of God’s Spirit in us and the power of God’s Word through us, we can be effective messengers of good news throughout the world. My prayer is that we can not only Witness Well, but also have a full understanding of coming to the well of God’s Word for not only the strength and courage, but also for the message itself.
This is my first attempt at a blog and I pray that the Lord may bless it.