On faith: Does Jesus care?
By: Pastor Jim Joseph, Living Waters Fellowship, Lake County News Chronicle
That question has been asked by His disciples, immortalized in song, and resonates with many today. Why is there so much pain and suffering in our world if God is a loving God? Why do the innocent suffer? How do we answer these questions? Do we oversimplify? Or do we just close our eyes and ignore what is happening around us? Many who lived near the Nazi death camps did. I find the same is too often true with us today. Our communities are filled with broken, wounded people who desperately need to know there is a God who cares for them.
In the old animation film of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer there is an Island of Misfit Toys where those who are mis-made, malformed, and unloved are taken until someone can be found who will love them just as they are. That is a picture of Christ’s Church. We are called to open our doors and our hearts to those who society would cast away.
The story is told of a congregation who as they came to worship on a Sunday morning found a drunk sleeping under a bush near the front door. Most ignored him, some called him names, others complained among themselves of his appearance and his smell. No one spoke kindly to him and certainly no one invited him in. As the people enjoyed the prelude and waited for their pastor to begin the service, the drunk walked in the doors and began to stagger down the aisle. The congregation was aghast as he walked behind the pulpit.
He proceeded to take off his coat and hat. To their amazement, the drunk was really their pastor who wanted to see what they would do in such a situation. His words were simply, “I think you know what the sermon topic is this morning.”
To return to our question- yes, Jesus does care. His sufferings and death on the cross prove that. Why does God allow such evil to endure? Evil at its source was defeated at the cross. Yet, humans have free-will and God cannot abrogate one of the very things that make us in His image. Real choice allows both good and evil choices to be made. All choices have consequences and often innocent people are caught up in the evil choices of others.
Still, I question and yet I trust. There are many things I do not understand but this I do know- the foundations of God’s throne are righteousness and justice and the essence of His nature is love. Perhaps the most honest prayer ever prayed was uttered by that father long ago who said, “Lord I believe. Help my unbelief.”
Jesus teaches us to love, specifically with agape love. That love is best understood by reading I Corinthians which states, “Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” NASV
The Lord Jesus died to conquer evil and set us free. We are called to love each other as well as our friends, neighbors, and even our enemies. In doing so, we extend His conquest and defeat evil right here in northern Minnesota. I challenge each of us to share His love with someone who is broken or hurting today.
Rev. Jim Joseph serves as Senior Pastor at Living Waters Fellowship in Two Harbors, Minn.; ElderCare Chaplain for the TH Christian Ministerial Association; and Secondary Bible Teacher at Lakeview Christian Academy in Duluth, Minn.