The past 2-1/2 years have been particularly marked with suffering. First, many lost their lives to the pandemic or suffered the loss of a loved one, then came the emotional/mental health impact of the necessary COVID precautions (shelter in place, online versus physical meetings/classes, etc.). Now, in addition to the aftermath of the pandemic, we are facing new challenges including geopolitical tensions/war, draught, hurricanes, etc. The list goes on…
These situations clearly beg the question, “Why?” , as they should. And the answer isn’t clear. Hence, we’re left to our faith and the Holy Spirit to guide us. If we would only apply our faith, intelligence, and knowledge, then I’d be most confident that all roads would lead to Rome (i.e., we’d all come to the same basic and correct conclusion).
However, distractions of our earthly world abound. Some well-intended Christians are asserting that we brought our problems on ourselves via our sinful nature. Although there might be an element of truth to this, I strongly believe it is not the case by and large. Instead, I believe it’s much more likely to be due to one or more of several common rabbit holes. These are explained in the next section.
The mistakes we sometimes make
- As Christians, we are taught to always strive to be righteous and to reject everything that isn’t. This is very true, and we should always do exactly this. However, there is a highly-important detail that we sometimes miss – to separate the sin from the sinner. Matthew 22:34-40 states God’s desires quite clearly. Here’s the punchline: The first two of the 10 commandments are the most important and form the basis of the other 8. They are a) “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” and b) “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Failure to do these two fundamental – but sometimes difficult – things might very well be our greatest sin. So why are we so quick to reject others who sin? We need to stop doing that, and instead, lovingly rebuke them and lead them to the right path. IOW, we should help others succeed rather than reject or marginalize them when they fail. This means we should also allow others to do the same for us, and to openly appreciate it when they do.
- Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking and acting as though we have somehow earned the privilege of salvation via our repentance, but the truth is none of us have earned it, and none of us are even capable of earning it. It is 100% a gift from God. So, who are we to put ourselves above anyone else? In fact, Jesus was very hard on the scribes and Pharisees (who were actually well-intended and wanted to help people) when they put doctrine above love and Jesus’ teachings. Jesus tried very hard to help them understand the error in their ways, but they dug in and didn’t listen to Him. Today, we seem to have the same situation with the “holier than thou” mentality and people on social media saying that God hates us and has abandoned us. This is definitely not true, as God would never abandon us, so long as we don’t abandon Him.
- We erroneously jump to the conclusion that, when natural disasters, war, etc. happen that it is God’s direct response to our sinful nature. I have a separate post entitled “Why Does God Allow Bad Things to Happen to Good People?” that tells a completely different story. The essence is that God is always with us and that these things happen for our ultimate good.
God loves us. There is no ambiguity to this. He has proved it unequivocally by having Jesus (God’s one-and-only son) pay the ultimate price for all of our sins. In return, we just need to believe in Jesus, follow Jesus, and make a good faith effort to live as perfectly as we can. When we mess up (make mistakes/sin) and ask forgiveness, His complete forgiveness will most likely be granted. Because God loves us, He is looking for reasons to accept us, not reject us (John 3:17: “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”).
However, God does hate sin. God is perfect, and God sets the standard. We chronically fall short of that standard – all of us. That’s why He sent Jesus to rescue us – from ourselves. Meanwhile, He does hate sin and He admonishes us all to turn away from sin and encourage others to do likewise, for the purpose of leveraging us to help other people get saved. This is where we sometimes get confused. We are called to reject sin but to love the sinner, as Jesus did with the sinners and tax collectors. It’s all too easy for well-intended Christians to not understand this distinction and assume that God rejects both.
Reality is nothing could be further from the truth, as God has already paid for our sins via the crucifixion/death of Jesus Christ on the cross. This is our wonderful inheritance. We just need to believe it, claim it, repent from sin as best we can, and then leave the rest to God. At that point, God, Himself, will take it from there and will be the one-and-only ultimate judge.
I believe it’s really that simple.
Does anyone have any differing or additional thoughts on this?