For the last couple of weeks, and up until Noelle and I move, we will be discussing big questions people are interested in talking about from our youth group. This is the question and my response to it from May 5th. I'll be posting these on this blog rather than printing them each week for anyone interested
Why does evil live on yet good people die? This is an important question, but also one that might be slightly misguided. In order to see things more clearly, we need a correct understanding of what is “good”, what is “evil”, and what God has done about it and what he promises to do in the future.
For starters, we need to remember that “good” is not based on what we think is good but on God, who defines all that is good and is perfectly good. And we all fall short of the standard when we realize that’s where the bar is at! No one is good like God… in fact, no one is truly “good”. We can do good things, say nice things, and so on – but we are not good. Without God’s grace crashing into our lives and changing us, we are broken, rejecting God’s will and intention for our lives.
Second, what is “evil”? While there are many good definitions, one good definition of evil is this: evil is anything that goes against God’s nature and his will. That means, anything that opposes God’s perfect creation, his character (love, grace, kindness, fairness, justice, etc.), or his will for humanity is evil. When we see it this way, we see that all of us are in fact “evil” – once again, we can do good things but we cannot be called “good” at the core. But we can be called “evil” because we all live contrary to God’s design and character.
Third, what has God done about evil? Has he done anything? Hear we need to see that God has responded to evil. God became a man (Jesus Christ) and experienced evil – he was betrayed, beaten, and killed on a cross. God doesn’t avoid evil and suffering, he enters into it! He experienced far greater evil than any other human ever could – not because no one suffers like that, but because Jesus didn’t just die… he took all the punishment we deserve as people who oppose God and sin against him. He took my place, your place, the place of the world and offers forgiveness because the debt has been paid for. All who come to him in faith, knowing they should have died instead of him but trust him as Savior, experience a newness of life given to them by God – the Bible calls this being born again, being a new creation, and other things all describing what happens when we become Christians.
Lastly, what has God promised to do in the future about evil and suffering? This gets at the heart of tonight’s question. Why doesn’t God just end it now if he could? Is he not all powerful, or (and this would be worse) is he not all good? No, he is all powerful and perfectly good. Read 2 Peter 3:8-13. We see that God is not slow or weak; he is patient and is in control of history in such a perfect way that he is bringing many people to himself rather than ending history now. He is not pacing back and forth in Heaven like he doesn’t know what to do… he is perfectly carrying along the plan to make a new heavens and new earth – one without death, evil, suffering, tears, pain, or anything that is not in perfect harmony with himself. What starts with human beings through faith in Christ – making us new creations who know, love, and worship him – will eventually be seen in a perfect world forever.
God knows the pain you’ve been through. He went through great pain to be with you. Trust him and know that He loves you, and even when we can’t see it He is working for our good and his perfect plan, showing off his greatness and the great love with which he loves us.
For further reading: Romans 1, 3, 8. Ephesians 2. I Peter 2:18-22. 2 Peter 3:8-13. Revelation 21 & 22