If God is so good why are his people such a mess?


It seems stupidly simple: Love God and love your neighbor. Why is it so wickedly hard?

Last week, in a message on Overcoming Doubt, I mentioned that one of the very excellent questions that cause many people to doubt God is, “If God is so good, why are his people such a mess?”

One person noted that, “Most people I meet assume that Christian means very conservative, entrenched in their thinking, antigay, antichoice, angry, violent, illogical, empire builders; they want to convert everyone and they generally cannot live peacefully with anyone who doesn’t believe what they believe.” (quoted in UnChristian, by David Kinnaman)

And let’s don’t even get started on pastors. I shudder to think of how my colleagues and I have spit in the soup of people’s spiritual journeys.

If God is so good why are his people such a mess?

Why indeed. Why is it so hard for us to follow two simple instructions? Theologians have wrestled with this for thousands of years. The answers usually come in the standard three-part reply: the world, the flesh, and the devil. (That’s a paraphrase of a couple verses in the New Testament book of Ephesians.)

  • The world. All the beliefs and practices and values that shape our culture, our community, and more.
  • The flesh. The self-directed life that relegates God to a corner on Sunday morning, and otherwise tries to live by our own wisdom and rules.
  • The devil. The enemy of God who actively seeks to undermine God’s good creation and good design for humanity.

Let’s think about this. I can’t change the world. And I can’t change the devil. That only leaves me with one thing to focus on. The flesh. The self-directed life. The temptation for all of us is to think, “it’s my life, I’ll live it however I want.” We like to talk about our rights and our freedoms.

But if God is really God, and if he is really the Creator, then my life isn’t really my life. And the idea of the self-directed is kinda backwards. Maybe we should talk about a God-directed life. Maybe we should talk about God’s freedom to create us for his purpose. Maybe we should talk about God’s right to direct our lives.

The truth is, if we exchange the self-directed life for a God-directed life, then we cease to be such a mess. We begin to exchange the “acts of the flesh” (things like immorality, impurity, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissension, envy, drunkenness, etc.) with the fruit of the Spirit (which are listed as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control).

Or to put it another way, loving God, and loving our neighbor. Turns out it’s not complicated. And it’s not impossible. Well, unless we’re still trying to be the one running our life.

So that song about “Jesus take the wheel” is pretty spot-on. Who’s directing your life?

-Pastor Mark

Posted on May 18, 2018, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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