July 25, 2016 - Evil and a Good God

Brothers and sisters:
We hold this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained;
perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed;
always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.
For we who live are constantly being given up to death

2 Corinthians 4:7-15

Clearly, Paul had no expectation that being a person of faith would result in divine protection.  God will not protect us from misfortune, reward our good behavior and compliance with His will, or punish our bad behavior.  That just isn’t the gig.

Jesus spent a lot of time contradicting the assumption that God doles out good fortune and bad fortune.  He pointed to a recent tragedy at Siloam where a tower collapsed on eighteen people, and an episode where Pilate had a group of Galileans  killed as they brought sacrifices to the Temple. (Luke 13:1-5) Jesus heals a man blind from birth to answer an amazing question posed by his disciples: “Is this man blind because of his own sin or a sin committed by his parents?” (John 9:1-12).  It is clear the theologians of the day thought this was a valid question too. (John 9:34)

Finally, in the Beatitudes, Jesus insists that the poor, the sick, and the socially outcast have not been cursed by God but have more of God’s attention than those of us who consider ourselves “blessed” by good fortune.