A Simple Question Part IV
by Bev Brown
Set Me Free Ministries Prayer Team Coordinator
Imagine God's Mercy
I had a sort of epiphany the other day. I hope I am able to express in this short blog the impact that it had on me. It is a truth I have known for years, but at that moment, it became Truth to me. So please bear with me as I attempt to walk you through that day and that moment.
I woke up early and didn’t have time to do my devotions. I was off and running somewhere (very important, I’m sure). I had the radio on and was listening to a news story about the very brutal rape and murder of a young child. As a mother and grandmother, I immediately began to empathize with the mother of that precious little child, and the tears began to well up in my eyes. The prayer immediately followed. “Dear God, I pray for the mother and father of this child. Comfort them as only you can. And, God, I have to ask, how can there be such evil in the world? The evil that would prey on a helpless little child?” I know many of you have been there as well. How can such bad things happen to good people?
At this point, I also need to share another thought process that had been stirring in my mind. One of the accusations against the Gospel is that it is too narrow and exclusive. How could a loving God send “good” people to hell for all eternity? If you have been following these blogs, you have seen this difficult question addressed and responded to. I have one Facebook friend who often writes about her very personal struggle with finally realizing that it is not God’s nature to judge and condemn, but only to love and accept. But I want to challenge that conclusion and why I believe those who hold that false belief are unwittingly doing harm to God’s wonderful creation.
So, back to my epiphany… I went and finished up my errands, but the thought of that little child was always there. I just couldn’t shake the sadness it evoked. It was about midday, and I finally sat down in my big blue chair to have my time with the Lord. I picked up my devotional book, Renewed Day by Day by A.W. Tozer and read the following entry for April 17:
The earnest and instructed Christian knows that the wrath of God is a reality, that His anger is as holy as His love, and that between His love and His wrath there is no incompatibility. He further knows (as far as fallen man can know such matters) what the wrath of God is and what it is not.
To understand God’s wrath we must view it in the light of His holiness. God is holy and has made holiness to be the moral condition necessary to the health of His universe. Sin’s temporary presence in the world only accents this. Whatever is holy is healthy; evil is a moral sickness that must end ultimately in death.…
Since God’s first concern for His universe is its moral health, that is, its holiness, whatever is contrary to this is necessarily under His eternal displeasure. Wherever the holiness of God confronts unholiness there is conflict.
To preserve His creation God must destroy whatever would destroy it. When He arises to put down destruction and save the world from irreparable moral collapse He is said to be very angry. Every wrathful judgment of God in the history of the world has been a holy act of preservation.
God’s wrath is His utter intolerance of whatever degrades and destroys!
In fact, Tozer points out that the very word “holy” means well and whole! What I realized in that moment was this: It is not self-serving of Christians (or God, for that matter) to want everyone to experience redemption through Christ. Quite the contrary—it is a selfless desire! The Bible is very clear on this matter. When we “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14), at the same time, we remove our old sin nature. Or as Ephesians 5:8–9 exhorts us, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth)…” The earnest and instructed Christian knows that the wrath of God is a reality, that His anger is as holy as His love, and that between His love and His wrath there is no incompatibility. He further knows (as far as fallen man can know such matters) what the wrath of God is and what it is not.
Evil exists in the world because we live in a fallen world. But the Good News of the Gospel is this: God has the cure! From the beginning of time, God has desired to redeem His creation from the Fall.
Remember John Lennon’s song, Imagine?
Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today
I’d like to propose we sing a new song:
Imagine a world where all the people are under God’s mercy not
Where sin no longer has its hold on us
Where we no longer hear the news of another child being
brutally raped and murdered
Where we live not just for today, but with eternity in mind
A world in which every knee will bend [to God] and every tongue
confess and give praise to Him! (Romans 11-12)
It’s easy if you try.