Evil is not minimized, but it is put in its place, bracketed between Christ and prayer. There is a detail listing of evil and a courageous facing of evil, but no explanation of it. Nowhere in the Bible is there any attempt to answer the question, “Why does a good God permit evil?” Evil is a fact. The Bible spends a good deal of space insisting that certain facts are evil, and not minor blemishes on the surface of existence. But the Bible does not provide an explanation of evil – rather, it defines a context: all evil takes place in an historical arena bounded by Christ and prayer. Evil is not explained but surrounded. The Revelation summarizes the context: admit evil and do not fear it – for “he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4); endure evil, for you are already triumphant over it – “ I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18). The Revelation expands the apostolic and dominical words into visions. By putting evil in its place and enumerating it accurately in the precise part of the story where it belongs, it is seen as finite episode and not a total triumph.
Category Archives: Temptation
I have benefited from books written by pastors. Over time I have found myself becoming cynical of the volume and reliability of what is being published from pastors. Then a friend forwarded a newsletter that echoed what I feared maybe true of some of these books. It was from The Pastor’s Coach and titled 3 Dangers Large Churches Face. Here is the part that stuck out to me:
A staff pastor and trusted friend in a very large church called me to talk about his frustration. The Senior Pastor of this church wrote and published a book about the story of their church and the ministry system it was using. The book was apparently good, and the story captivating, but unfortunately the ministry system wasn’t working. They needed to kill it or change it in a big way. But the pastor insisted that the staff stick with it since the book was out. It was obvious that changing the system would hurt the church’s reputation if word got out that the system didn’t really work and they therefore dropped it.
I know this story is not true for every book, every church, or every pastor. But I also know the temptation to prop ministries up for appearances or accolades. It breaks my heart when I see it so clearly spelled out. We must be careful when we seek to maintain something out of image.
>I was reading a blog in response to the pastor who told his church to delete their Facebook accounts to avoid affairs only to then be found having had an affair. One line in the blog caught my attention, “Couples should take steps to build trust and eliminate unnecessary temptations, while still recognizing the individuality of the two people involved.” The quote is true but it also highlights faulty thinking about sanctification. We tend to think about sanctification only in terms of temptation avoidance.
While avoidance of temptation is part of the sanctification process, I think we tend to focus too much on the wrong thing with that perspective. It seems the goal of sanctification in our walks with God is to be moving toward something better. If our focus is always “avoiding the trouble spots” we will find, and often fall, into trouble spots. However if our focus is to deepen our passions for Christ and the things that are closer to God’s heart, our taste and desire for this world will change. While there will still be temptation, it will not be as appealing.
Our hearts follow what we treasure. I think this is why Christ was always challenging his followers in regards to their heart. If our hearts are pursuing Christ, we will still sin but we will be moving in a much better direction than if we are just avoiding temptations.