Original Post: Wednesday, 19 June 2013
After discussing evil and suffering for a few posts, I think I’ve done a half decent job at dealing with the overarching themes and discussions pertaining to evil and the existence of God. At the same time, I do feel that there is a lot more to these problems and concerns when it comes to evil. Sure, maybe you’re at the point now where you can see evil and God co-existing logically and you understand that your emotions, if anything, don’t give you enough reason to deny God’s existence (and maybe even motivate you to the hope that God does exist)… But there is still a hunger and a thirst there for something more, I bet.
But is there a satisfying answer to why evil exists and how it can be overcome or dealt with?
This is where I’d like to get a lot more specific. I’d like to contend that the Christian God, particularly through the person and work of Jesus Christ, is the most satisfying answer to evil and suffering, bar none.
The Only God to Suffer
First and foremost, let me talk about Jesus. The Christian view of Jesus of Nazareth was that he was God incarnate (See the first chapter of the Gospel of John). That is, he was very much God and yet he was God manifesting himself in the everyday body of a man of middle-east descent. He wasn’t a superman with special powers or abilities but was a man, plain and simple. He slept, ate, drank like a man. He got hungry and thirsty and tired. And he also experienced pain, betrayal, sadness, and so on. I could go on. But I will make a point of looking at how Jesus, in his human flesh, also suffered.
As he was being tried for crucifixion, Jesus was betrayed by all who loved him and whom he also loved. They scattered and left him, not saying a word to defend him. His top disciple even denied having ever been his friend and follower – three times, publicly. Imagine being betrayed like that by your best friend, and tell me Jesus can’t sympathize even with social sufferings that are so common even here in the West. Feeling alone? No one was ever more alone than Jesus, even though he was as innocent and moral as they come and deserved none of it.
When it came to actually being criminalized, Jesus suffered immeasurably. Before he was even crucified, this innocent man (not to mention God incarnate) unjustly suffered flogging and scourging. Think being whipped, but with a 5-string sharp leather whip with iron balls that would penetrate the skin and cause many a contusion and laceration as deep as the muscles. Oh, and you’re naked while they do this to you. They would do this to near collapse or even death. Feel free to look it up for yourself, but be warned, I’ve toned down the description considerably.
Crucifixion itself is a most brutal form of execution. Victim’s arms would be nailed and tied to the horizontal beam of the cross and hung from them. Death would not be quick – imagine a slow suffocation as you hang from outstretched arms, either cold because you are naked, or hot because of the roasting middle-eastern sun over you. If suffocation didn’t get you, it might be because you’ve already died from blood loss or organ failure thanks to the scourging you just received.
Evil Dealt With
Evils though there might be in this world, Christians worship a God who can sympathize with it all. He became a man and suffered and died unjustly. He wasn’t willing to put his creation, which he loves, through anything he wasn’t willing to go through himself.
Another very important truth about the work of Jesus Christ. When Jesus suffered and died on the cross, it was more than simply a physical event. Anyone familiar with Christian theology knows that it was a very spiritually and theologically significant event as well.
On that cross, the Bible tells us that death and evil were conquered. The victory of all things good and righteous was sealed. And there will be a day in the future when that victory comes to consummation, when evil is destroyed and dealt with and good will reign forever. As the New Testament’s final book puts it:
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Rev. 21:4).
Evil Does Not Get the Last Laugh
In Christianity, God is not complacent about evil. He comes down and faces it man to man. Then he deals with it decisively.
So when it comes to evil and the sufferings of the world we live in, Christianity gives us hope. And our hope, ironic as it might seem given the problem of evil itself, is God himself. Thus, he is the very reason we can endure evil and sufferings in this life, knowing he sympathizes with us and that his truth comforts us and gives us hope that what we endure will not be for naught.
Hell and Suffering
A final note. If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and your God, you do not share this hope. You do not have God, the hope himself. The evil and suffering you endure in this life will be but a shadow of what you face when you die and are completely separated from God. That is what “hell” in the Christian tradition is – separation! And so I plead with you – deeply consider that the answer to evil and sin and all that is wrong with this life lies in the person of Jesus Christ. Please, talk to me, read the Bible, talk to someone you know who truly knows Jesus. My whole reason for writing these blog posts is that people would meet Him, so you would do me great service even if we could just chat about this. At least give this great thought! If indeed what I speak is true, it has great consequences and is worth checking out.
Thanks for reading! This is for now my last post on evil, but there are many more questions that people are always asking, and so there will always be more blog posts. Until then,