No Apologizing

Christian Apologetic, and Social Commentary in a world gone mad

Tag Archives: Suffering

We are not called to be John McClane


john-mcclane-loved-characters

 

There is a dialogue taking place in churches after the shooting in Sutherland Springs.  This conversation is focused on church security and protecting members of the congregation.  Many in church leadership are calling for a review of how churches can provide a more secure environment.  The topic of security is not new and has continued to gain momentum since the Charleston shooting in 2016.

That emotion is easy to understand.  We are seeing a trend of churches being attacked, and with the last one in Sutherland Springs, they are becoming more deadly.  So much so, that there are now calls for armed security at churches.  Is this how we are supposed to respond to persecution, or attacks?  Are we called to beef up security, train ourselves for a violent response, or to be armed while we are at church?

The reality of Charleston and Sutherland Springs is that there is no way the shooter could have been stopped unless there was someone armed and on the premises when the firing began to happen.  As churches continue to discuss security, this will become plain to all and should leave any rational or logical evaluation with this conclusion.  But is that what we should do as Christians?  Are we responding to these shootings in the way the world would react or the way that Christ would respond?  Fortunately for us, the New Testament offers significant testimony to followers during times of persecution.

I know that this will more than likely not be popular in an America that is pro second amendment.  I know this will not be popular in a culture that has been taught that we have every right to defend ourselves, and our families.  I know that this will not be popular in a western Christian culture which doesn’t know how to respond to this type of murderous persecution biblically.  But I also know that the Bible does not call for an armed response to threats to our or our family’s persons.  In fact, it calls for just the opposite.  In fact, there are over 70 different verses in the New Testament describing our response to OR THE BENEFIT OF persecution.  There is not one instance, IN ALL OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, that calls for better security or armed protection of believers.  Here are a few examples.

Romans 8:35-37 – Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

1 Peter 4:19 – Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

Romans 12:17-21 –  Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

1 Peter 4:12-19 – Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.  If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.  But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.  Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.  For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?   And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”  Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

So what do we take from this?  Reading this, and the many other scriptures it would appear that we are called to just…suffer.  This is so contrary to everything in our culture which would have us crawling through air vents to take out would be shooters.  Does that mean that we are just to stand there and take it?  There is no instance in the New Testament where believers took up arms to stop persecution.  In fact, the one documented incident of a Christian fighting back resulted in his actions being rebuked by Christ himself.  Of course, I am referring to Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane.

In all of the documented instances of Paul, Stephen, or other nameless Christians being persecuted, there is no instance where Paul says to take up arms to protect yourself in church.

As the dialogue continues into church security, I hope that church leadership takes into consideration those who were persecuted in the New Testament.  I hope that the church does not cave to the trappings of the American culture, but instead caves to the rewards of a kingdom mentality.  We are citizens of the kingdom first and must act according to those ethics, rather than American ethics.

So the conversation shouldn’t be about added layers of security.  Instead, the discussion should be whether we dare to remain biblical in the face of persecution.

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Why does God allow bad things to happen?


I know Kevin promised updates on the G90X on Monday’s.  Well…Kevin is not here, and I felt like I needed to post this.  I will give an update tomorrow on the G90X.

This piece is a companion piece to “Is God Evil”.  Just to recap… Two common arguments used by atheists and agnostics alike is that God is either evil because He is in control of everything and allows bad things to happen or He is not in control.  In the “Is God Evil” blog I refuted both of those points using God’s Word as the foundation.  So the natural response…If God is in control, and God is not evil…why then would He allow these things to happen?

I first began to think about this topic because I had my own motivations to study it.  I was curious about why God would allow a recession of this magnitude and other bad things I saw in the world around me.  I also was faced with a discussion with an agnostic/atheist who said they refused to believe in a God that would allow such horrible things to happen.  This gets to the heart of the matter for a number of atheists and agnostics.  Why? 

Recently I had a conversation with a woman that I have worked with for nearly a year.  Somehow during the conversation she had mentioned something about a trial, so I inquired.  It turns out that her son had been murdered.  The story is painful.  All I could think about was what my response would be had something like this had happened to my kids.  Anyway, her son had been shot because of an argument that went out of control.  The guy that shot him then proceeded to pour gasoline on him and set him on fire.  As she is telling the story she begins to cry, and then the most amazing words came out of her mouth… “I am so grateful that he was saved.  I know that I will see him again.”  Amazing!!  Here, this mother had lost a son, in the most extreme way, and was still grateful to God.

So why would God allow this to happen to her child?  Why would God allow a child to be raped (as David pointed out on several occasions from the “Is God Evil?” post)?  We could look at the cause of evil in the world today.  How the fall of man has allowed sin/disease into the world.  I would rather focus on the “why?” as opposed to the “how?”  Perhaps the “how?” can be addressed in a future post.

The first thing that has to be said when looking at the question “why” is that we have no way of knowing why God does the things that he does.  As smart as we all like to think we are we have no idea.  The perfect illustration to this is the book of Job.  To understand what I am talking about you have to understand Job.  Job was upright and blameless.  He had not committed any specific sin when God allowed Satan to strike at him.  Thus Job (and his friends) asked the question….why?  Why would God do this to him?  Now Job claimed he had done nothing wrong, and if he only had the opportunity to present his case to God he would be able to explain this.  Job friends said that he had to have done something wrong…otherwise why would God punish him?  Neither was right.  God responds in Chapters 3842.  God challenges Job’s by asking him a series of questions.  Basically God asks Job…”Who are you?”  He does this in a sarcastic manner.  Jobs response in 42:2-3 shows the lesson to be learned.  There are things we cannot comprehend, things we will not understand.  God makes this point very clear to Job, and Job gets it.  What is the first answer to “why?”  We will never know until God reveals it to us.

There are additional answers that we have been able to identify from the New Testament that allow us to understand why God would allow these things to happen.  In my comments to the “Is God Evil?” post I identified a few. 

The question was asked then…”Does God really need to allow these things to happen to display Himself?”  The answer is yes.  Yes, He does. 

–          It allows a witness

We draw this example from Christ.  1 Peter 5:1 is an example of how suffering allows us to be effective witnesses.  Peter watched the suffering of Christ.  For this reason he was able to be an effective witness to the event.  Can you speak to suffering, if you have not seen the misery that comes with it?  Can you speak to anything with wisdom, if you have not participated?

–          It develops our capacity to comfort others

Look at 2 Corinthians 1:3-7.  Paul is making two distinct points.  First, that God is the father of compassion and comfort.  God will always be there to comfort us.  Also Paul makes the great point that the suffering we endure will create patient endurance and allow us to share our comfort.  Seriously, who is more able to provide more comfort in times of suffering?  Those who have not dealt with any, or those who have?  This was Paul’s point.

–          It is a training tool

Suffering allows us to grow.  James 1:2-4 tells us that trials will help us persevere.  The Bible verse here says it all. “… that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” See the parallel passage in Romans 5:3-53Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

–          It displays the awesome power of God’s grace

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 displays this point.  Here Paul is under attack, and describes the thorn in his flesh (suffering).  Paul pleaded with God three times.  God’s response?  My grace is sufficient.  God did not tell Paul, okay I will make it all stop.  God responded by saying, I get it, and my grace is enough for you during these trials.

It is hard to endure or even watch the evil and suffering that exists in the world.  How do you, from any perspective answer the question, “Why would God allow that to happen?”  Rape, child molestation, murder, genocide etc…  Look at the above answers.  As painful as it is for us, our faith has to reside in God, otherwise…what else is there?  Man? Randomness?  Chance?  These things happen for any number of reasons that will be beyond our control.  We must, in all circumstances, know that we must continue to have faith in God.

Confused, Restless, Anxious, Hurting? Hurry Up and Wait!


In doing my G90X reading today I ran across a passage I’d heard a sermon on previously Exodus 40:36-38 “The Israelites set out whenever the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle throughout all the stages of their journey.  37 If the cloud was not taken up, they did not set out until the day it was taken up.  38 For the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and there was a fire inside the cloud by night, visible to the entire house of Israel throughout all the stages of their journey.”

There is something to be learned here about waiting on God. This is echoed throughout scripture, but especially in the Psalms… Here are a few examples:

Psalm 27:13-14 I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

Psalm 33:4-7 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: 6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. 7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him

Psalm 130:5-6 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. 6 My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning…

So, what’s the point? In times of discontent, restlessness and uncertainty instead of trying to kick in doors and seize control of our futures, we ought to wait and pray and see what God will do… It’s usually much more amazing than we could ever dream… At least that’s what I’ve seen in my life… The times I’ve rushed, I’ve failed… when I took my time and gotten (and followed) wise counsel, the results have been astounding.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to stuff that we already know that we need to be obeying, like sharing our faith, giving to the church, praying, having a quiet time… etc. God has been clear in His Word on what we need to be doing in those cases and we need to MOVE – NOW… but that is a topic for another post!

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