Never did I think I would ever be so bold as to challenge the brilliant mind and interesting words of Stephen Fry. Let’s just say it got personal? (Haha.) I like to consider, think and write about topics in the news that concern God and faith. Hence there is a section of my blog focused on this. Mr.Fry, a well known television personality and atheist in the UK, said in a recent interview the following things about God which captured my imagination:
- “…Bone cancer in children, what’s that about? How dare you… how dare you create a world where there is such misery that’s not our fault? It’s utterly, utterly evil.”
- “Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?”
- “The god who created this universe, if he created this universe, is quite clearly a maniac, an utter maniac, totally selfish. We have to spend our lives on our knees thanking him. What kind of god would do that?”
- The Christian god is “utterly monstrous and deserves no respect”.
- “The moment you banish him [God], your life becomes simpler, purer, cleaner, more worth living in my opinion.”
This Got Me Musing…
As a Christian, this was painful to hear. It grieves me that so many reject God on this basis without looking at the whole truth. Suffering and evil are stumbling blocks for many when it comes to God. A life without God in a world of evil and suffering is a terrible thought. If there is no God, there is no hope. If there is a God, why does all of this awful stuff happen? What amazes me is that several people are quick to get hot-headed and argumentative at a God they do not believe in. Moreover, the God of the bible has already dealt with it evil and suffering which is often overlooked and dismissed. Nonetheless, I am thankful that I can share the hope that I have with you and reassure you that there is a God, there is hope and there is an end to pain, suffering and evil.
Where is God? Is God evil? Is He powerless to stop the atrocities?
Still seeing ISIS beheading hostages?
Still hurting for the orphans that have lost their families to the Ebola virus?
Still angry with how children are lying in bed with cancer?
Still hurting with those that are being beaten and murdered by thugs?
Still aching over the death of a loved one to a terminal illness?
Still asking why so many people died in one plane crash and haven’t been found in another crash?
Still asking why thousands upon thousands are affected by natural disasters?
The Fall of Mankind
When God created the world He said ‘It was good’ (Genesis 1:31). There must have been a time when it was. So what went wrong? The choices of sinful people. Man and woman. People created by God, for God, to be in a perfect relationship with Him were given a choice. Adam and Eve had everything they could ever need. God provided it all for them and for their enjoyment. They were created perfect. But by swapping the truth of God for momentary temptation, they were deceived.They sought to be like God.
Sin entered the world. It was ‘the fall’ of mankind. Soon after Adam and Eve had disobeyed God by eating what they had been told not to, trouble unfolded. Man and woman felt shame for the first time. They hid from the Lord with whom they had once enjoyed His presence. They felt afraid because of their nakedness. The Lord was rightly angry. Would He be a just God if He did not set out rules (in this instance 1 rule) to be followed, not for our misery, but for our protection? Adam and Eve were given a choice. They were not created as robots, programmed to love God until the end of time. Would you want someone to love you out of obligation and force? Could you really call it love?
Although God had cast them out of the Garden of Eden, he clothed them first. He met their physical needs (Genesis 3:21). Despite the fact that man and woman had disobeyed God, He still loved them and watched over them.
It was not long after sin entered the world that the first murder took place. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God they gained the knowledge of both good and evil. Evil on earth was a direct product of the fall. It was never part of God’s creation (as we have read that it was ‘good’), but it was a result of man’s decision.
We Have A Choice
Today, man and woman still have a choice. We have a decision to make. To sin and live a life away from knowing the Lord who loves and who saves. Or to repent from the sin we commit, turn away from it and have a new heart and mind brought only from knowing that the Son of God died for you. Jesus Christ died for each person on this earth. He died for you. He died for your neighbour. He died for your family. He died for your friends. He died for your enemies. He died for Stephen Fry. He died for me. He died for Mugabe. He died for Mandela. He died for the homeless man you passed today. He died for your boss. He died for monarchs. He died for dictators. He died for the persecutor. He died for the persecuted. He died for all.
He became a sin offering for all of us. Through His death we have life. He restored the brokenness of humanity to God. However, it is once again our choice to reject God which has consequences. Murder, disease, illness, death, anger, hate, natural disasters etc. are all a by-product of the fall of mankind. But God has promised that there will be a new heaven and a new earth, free from sin and death. He has made a way back for all of humankind in this life to turn to Him.
What other god sacrificed himself for all of humankind? There is no love greater than this. What other religion welcomes everyone and frees them from sin and death? God hates evil and suffering and he HAS put an end to it in the death and resurrection of Jesus. God took no pleasure in the death of His Son, and He takes no pleasure in the death of anyone.
For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.” Ezekiel 18:32
Thanking a ‘selfish maniac’ of a god on our knees for our entire lives?
We do not thank God for sin and evil. Nor do we spend our lives on our knees. We would not get much work done for a start… However, if everyone spent some time on their knees in prayer to God, what a change we would see. Not the kind of prayer that is ritualistic or out of obligation. A heart-felt prayer crying out to God about the injustices we see all around us. A willful surrender to God uttering the same words of Jesus before He went to the cross:
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)
A God who willingly went to the cross for us is hardly selfish. It is completely selfless. I can understand in our flesh why we may think Jesus was a maniac for dying on a cross for a people who continuously reject Him. However, that it is not the mark of a maniac, it is the mark of a friend and His love for us:
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
We thank God for putting things right. Stephen Fry cannot comprehend this because all he sees is the here and now. He sees darkness because this world is full of darkness. God tells us that there will be trouble in this world, but that we should be of good cheer because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). The God of the universe has a much bigger vision than the mind of the people in His creation. When we follow the Lord and believe in His Son who died for our sins, we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). This does not mean we suddenly have all the answers to life’s most heart-breaking questions, but it means that we have the confidence to trust in the Lord who knows all things and has a purpose for everything.
What about the bone cancer in children?
As I have already mentioned, death and illness were never a part of God’s initial creation but was a by-product of a choice made by man and woman in the beginning. It is one thing to talk ‘matter-of-fact’ about the cause and effect of sin. It is a whole different approach to experience the emotion that comes with living in a world of sickness, disease and death. As someone who has had cancer myself at the age of 19 and experienced a bone marrow biopsy, I can partially relate to the emotional turmoil that this sickness can bring. However, it does not make me an expert in the emotional agony of losing a child or a parent to a terminal or fatal illness or accident.
There are moments in life when everyone asks ‘Why did this happen?’ We wrestle and rationalize with our thoughts and emotions. They provide little comfort. It cannot bring our loved one back. It does not provide a solid answer.
To point the finger at God and say ‘How Dare You!’ may seem like a reasonable thing to say. Almighty, Omnipotent, Creator could have stopped it but He didn’t. Why?
In the bible, two sisters called Martha and Mary had lost their brother Lazarus to an illness. When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, He did not come immediately to heal him. The verse before this said that He loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus very much, but yet He did not rush to get to Lazarus. When Jesus finally arrived on the scene, Martha meets Him and says:
“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21)
When Mary comes to see Jesus she says:
“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:32)
I think we can relate to that. If God had been here, this would not have happened in our lives. Where is God? Martha and Mary are honest, but they do not go up to Him and say ‘How dare you!’ Martha responds in faith despite her sadness:
“But even now I know that whatever you [Jesus] ask from God, God will give you.” (John 11:22)
Moreover, Jesus had compassion on those that were suffering. The shortest verse in the bible is ‘Jesus wept.’ (John 11:35) He was moved by the tears of Mary and those around Him. He grieved with them. He was deeply moved in spirit and greatly troubled (John 11:33). Surely, Jesus the Son of God is not utterly evil, mean-minded, stupid and monstrous. This is a picture of God the Father. God the Father and Jesus the Son are One (John 10:30). Thus, God is not distant and far away from our hurting hearts; He understands as One who lost His Son on the cross, and Jesus Himself experienced death for us as well as weeping over his friends. (See ‘Why Jesus Wept’ link below).
This God is a God of the real, the personal and the divine.
I pray that Stephen Fry with his IQ (QI), eloquence, and brilliant mind would consider meeting God before the ‘pearly gates’. I hope that He can be honest and ask God ‘why’? Any dialogue which earnestly seeks Jesus will not be turned away (Matthew 7:7). As for his idea that ‘banishing’ God would make life ‘simpler, purer, cleaner and more worth living’ I can only look with puzzled confusion. Taking a good look at the world today, (a world that is rapidly falling apart and cutting God out of the equation), I think this idealistic attitude of Mr. Fry’s can only be found at the foot of the cross.
Jesus Makes Us CLEAN
We should live in the light, where God is. If we live in the light, we have fellowship with each other, and the blood sacrifice of Jesus, God’s Son, washes away every sin and makes us clean. (1 John 1:7)
Jesus Makes Us PURE
“I, the Lord, am the one speaking to you. Come, let’s discuss this. Even if your sins are as dark as red dye, that stain can be removed and you will be as pure as wool that is as white as snow. (Isaiah 1:18)
Jesus Gives Us an ABUNDANT LIFE AND ETERNAL LIFE
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3)