5/14/16 Lavon late 20's
If we want to share the hope we have as Christians we need to be able to speak to some of the questions people will have for us. The good thing is we don't have to be learned theologians or Bible scholars. In fact, to try to give an academic, in-depth answer to simple questions in a conversational setting would only turn people off. We need to find a way to provide short, simple, yet reasonable responses.
Yesterday, we had shared much of the Gospel with a man on his bike named Lavon, and his question at the end was "That all sounds well and good, but I just have some basic questions that keep me from believing it. For example, if a God of love exists, why is there all this evil and suffering in the world?" It was a question that bugged him, but not enough for him to read, say, the book of Job in the Bible, or the works of a theologian like Augustine.
Lavon had a simple question for which there is no simple answer, but we can find ways to show that we have given these questions some thought and consideration, and that the Christian faith is not a blind faith but a reasonable faith with reasonable answers to these questions. My time with Lavon on the sidewalk was limited, just like my time here online, so this is a good place to write the relatively short but, I hope, reasonable answer I gave him. Here's pretty much what I said:
"I'm sure you realize that we humans freely choose to do the evil that happens in this world. But what would God's alternative be? To make us like robots that act perfectly all the time with no ability to choose right or wrong? There's something about our ability to choose that is important to God, even if it affects other people in the process. We choose to do the evil things we do, and we choose to avoid doing much of the good we ought to do. We make our choices in a world that isn't completely evil, in fact there is a lot of good in it too. The truth is that some people look at the evidence around us and conclude that God exists, and others see the same evidence and conclude He does not care or must not exist. Is the glass half full or half empty? We see the same evidence, a world full of both good and evil, but the difference depends on our perspective. If we think we are so good we deserve a full glass, then all we will be able to see and think about is the half that's missing, the half we feel we deserve. But if we understand that we are sinful people who deserve the just consequence for our sins, then we will see the half glass we have been given as a precious gift we don't deserve. If we know that a good God would love justice and punish sin, then every day of life, every breath we take, will be seen as a sign that God is willing to love us despite our sins."
I had already explained to Lavon that we all have a God-given conscience so that every time we choose to sin is like the original sin of Adam all over again, and my short explanation of the problem of evil was now pointing back to Jesus as the only One who can save us from the punishment we do deserve, and that He is the precious gift we do not deserve. My explanation is incomplete and full of theological holes I'm sure, but it was enough to satisfy Lavon’s idle complaint against God's existence and help him focus back on his need for Christ.