There is no denying that A LOT of bad things happen in this world. There are wars, injustice, inhumane acts, natural disasters, disease, school shootings, human trafficking, poverty and a multitude of fears, anxiety, loneliness issues and much more. Those who pushback on the idea of a good God creating a good world do have a point. The skeptic has good reason to ask A LOT of questions in this area. So, what gives?
Permit me to issue a disclaimer. This is a topic worthy of books, not blogs. Given that I have a short amount of space, I’ll give you three thoughts – not to suggest a solution – but to open the door that perhaps Christianity can still be credible. This is the Bible in three words.
1) CREATION. The Bible tells us that in the beginning, God created the world and He liked what He saw. In fact, when God was finished with His work and He saw a man and a woman with jurisdiction over creation, God viewed this as “very good,” Genesis 1:31. None of the bad things we see today were present in the original creation. There was no disease, pain, suffering or death. What you see in the world today that concerns you also concerns Christians and is in fact, addressed in the Bible.
2) FALL. Adam and Eve fell from their position of innocence with their rebellion against God. This changed everything. The Bible tells us that sin entered the experience of humanity AFTER God’s creative work was completed. Sin was not a part of the original creation, it is an intruder, Genesis 3. Then something tragic happened.
In His perfect love for people, God gave perfect freedom. Adam and Eve were free to choose to love God or reject Him. They were not made as robots that would automatically do God’s will all the time, they were free to choose God or not. They chose not. They broke God’s trust in them.
Creation was affected and what was once a perfect environment was instantly and permanently changed. So, you move from a perfect world to a fallen world. Sin is rebellion against God and when sin entered the picture the entire world was affected.
Relationships were also affected. Adam and Eve are pitted against each other immediately after the entrance of sin, and eventually one of their boys kills the other. Their relationship with God is tarnished. They are afraid and hide from God. Their physical being is changed. They don’t die instantly but the process of death is introduced into their beings and they eventually do die. They also suffer a spiritual death. Much of what hurts us today can be directly connected to the presence of sin.
As you move through human history and simply read the early pages of the Bible, you have the big events of Creation and Fall. Through the rest of Scripture, you see the lasting effects of the Fall.
3) REDEMPTION. The rest of the Bible is about redemption, about getting things back to where they were: people right with God and right with each other.
To be clear, redemption is not Plan B. Redemption is not God’s knee jerk reaction to a sinful people as if God didn’t see it coming and then sin happened and redemption is making the best of a bad situation. Redemption was and is the plan. It was always God’s plan.
God knew before He created the world that it would cost Him the life of His Son to redeem and restore all things to their original condition. The Bible tells us that God promised eternal life before the beginning of time, Titus 1:2. The cross of Jesus Christ is not God’s response to the brokenness of our world because the cross was decided upon BEFORE the creation of the world. The cross of Jesus Christ is needed to make the glory of God’s grace known to people in terms that are clear and compelling.
This is the plan from the foundation of the world. This is not Plan B because there never was another plan. This plan, to bring people to Himself through the crucified Savior and so put His glory on display is only valid in a fallen world. The plan does not fit any other kind of world. If there is no suffering, there is no Jesus.
Before God chose you to live in a fallen world, He chose His Son to break the brokenness of this world. Jesus left the glory, the perfection and the safety of heaven to live here for a season. In the brokenness of Jesus, all the suffering of the world has its ultimate explanation. Everything that we have and will ever receive in Christ is because Jesus suffered on the cross for our gain. Everything. If His suffering does not happen, we have nothing. No wonder they call Him Savior.