What constitutes a bad thing? What one person figures is bad, some else might wish they could have. I bet there’s those of us in here would say it’s a bad thing if I was grounded, or had my TV, or phone taken away by a parent. But some people would respond with, I wish I had my parent.
Some people might get a bad grade in school and think that’s a bad thing. Others wish they could go to school in the first place. Some people might go out to McDonalds or somewhere like it, and think its bad when the employees get their order wrong. Others would like to eat.
What is our definition of a bad thing. See we ask this question of why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? But that questions itself has a lot of other questions that go with it. Like, what is a bad thing?
To me a bad thing is going to be different than what it is to you, because my situation is different. To me a bad thing would be losing my wife. But since most of you don’t have wives or a spouse, that wouldn’t be a bad thing to you, because you don’t have it to lose.
Losing a phone might be a bad thing for some of us, but for others they never had a phone so it’s not a bad thing.
For some people having to buy $20 shoes sucks, because they want those $100 ones so they don’t get made fun of, but there are a lot of people around the world that are wearing hand me down dollar flip-flops because that’s all they can afford.
Marika and I went to Honduras for three months to serve several churches over there. There was an orphanage where the kids were dropped off by their parents, because they couldn’t take care of them anymore.
When we usually ask this question of why do bad things happen, we tend to view through the lens of what we find is bad. Sure we can probably agree on the big bad things, rape, murder, war. But usually, those are just to mask the bad things that we’ve experience that we wish we didn’t
We’re going to take several weeks and talk about this question, Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people. And in those several weeks we’re going to examine the underlining questions that go into it.
The first one is this, what is a bad thing. Because the reality is, everyone’s definition is a little different, because we based it on our own experience of a bad thing.
So the real question becomes what can we agree on are bad things?
Let’s start with the biggest ones. Can we all agree murder is bad? But what about killing? See the Bible makes a distinction between the two. Murder is the unjustified taking of a person life, whereas killing is the justified taking of someones life.
Is there a difference between murder and killing? If someone murders someone, is it ok for them to be killed? Some say yes, because it’s justice, but others say no it’s murder. Both agree that the original action is bad, but don’t agree if the action of killing the murder is bad.
So though we agree on the overall, we don’t agree on some of the details.
What about rape, can we all agree that rape is bad? Okay, but what if the person that was the raper has a mental diffencency where they don’t understand that’s it bad. Or what if it was consensual sex, but afterward one person decides they didn’t like the experience, and calls the person a rapist?
Again, once we start getting into the details, they start becoming harder to define what’s good and what’s bad.
One last one, can we agree that pedophilia, or sex with children is bad? So sex between an 45 year old and a 10 year dis bad right? What about an 18 year old and a 15 year old? Legally, ones an adult and ones a child, but I’ve seen a lot of things go around that says that’s ok. There’s a whole organization that pushes for men to be able to have relationships with young boys.
All this to say, what makes something bad is a matter of opinion, even in cases of the biggest ones.
See when we ask this question of why does God allow bad things to happen to good people, we view bad through the lens of our understanding. But because we’re all different, that understanding and what constitutes something as bad, changes form person to person.
But it goes even deeper than that. To make a judgment call on something being bad in the first place, means there has to be a standard of bad to even measure it against. Why is murder bad in the first place? If I can get something that would make my life better, and all that is standing in my way is a person, why shouldn’t I be able to do that?
Well the answer is, because it takes away someone’s else’s right to life. It breaks down the security of our society. But all of that can change because every society changes.
When we base our definition of what is bad on standards that can change, like our personal beliefs or societies standards, then what is bad is arbitrary and in the end meaningless because it is in constant change.
But the answer to what is bad is actually in the third word of the question were asking. God is the answer to what are bad things. We can only begin to ask the question, because God is the standard by which bad is judged against. Murder is only absolutely wrong, because God sets the standard of unjustified killing. Rape is wrong because God sets the standard that people shouldn’t force themselves sexual onto others. Pedophilia is wrong because God sets restrictions on sexual intercourse between married adults.
We can only ask this question of why does God allow bad things, because we already start with the understanding that without God, there is no bad thing, and all things we call bad are an opinion that can change based on our experience and our circumstance.
So the better question is, what does God call bad, and why then does he allow those things to happen? Well answer this question next week.
But today, my question for you is this, are you struggling with things that you call bad that you don’t want to deal with, or are you struggling with accepting who God is and his work in your life?
See the question of why does God allow bad things to good people, tends not to be a question of the injustices in the world, but rather question of why does God not let me have the life I want. Why can’t my life be perfect and I get everything I want.
The question tends to have, at it’s root, a struggle between what we want and what God has given us. And we’re upset because what we have, in our eyes, should be better.
In order for us to move forward in this discussion, we must first understand that it is by God’s standard that we have to judge whether something is good or bad, and when we do that, we will have to submit to his authority, and relinquish our own. That is the hard place to be, because then I can’t decided what good or bad is, because it’s not mine to decide. But when we come to this realization, then we can begin to understand what bad truly is and why God allows it.
Because even as Jesus said, “33…In this world you will have trouble…But take heart! I have overcome the world.”