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Our Current Virtual Church Message

Two Big Questions

Question 1.

If God cared about us like we want to believe He cares about us, wouldn’t God stop wars?

Question 2.

If God cared about us like we want to believe He cares about us, wouldn’t God stop sickness, pain, disease, and death?

Matthew 8: 5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 "Lord," he said, "my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering." 7 Jesus said to him, "I will go and heal him." 8 The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, `Go,' and he goes; and that one, `Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, `Do this,' and he does it." 10 When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." 13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go! It will be done just as you believed it would." And his servant was healed at that very hour.

Question 1.

If God cared about us like we want to believe He cares about us, wouldn’t God stop wars?

There is something about the really tough questions I can’t resist asking. The answers to this tough question may at first glance be beyond our reach. However, the answers are in the palm of our hand.

Most of us have at one time or another said or thought, Lord, stop the world. I want off. I have had enough already.

Maybe God wants us to be grown up and not start wars with each other like gangs of spoiled teenagers do? If God stopped wars between nations, what other kinds of mischief would we do? What other kinds of darkness would we invent? In your personal everyday life, you don’t wage war against another country. However, in your personal life there are physical battles, emotional battles, and spiritual battles to be waged. Darkness and evil lurk around the corner in every person’s life. Bad things happen to really good people. Bad people do bad things to other people. Every person has the capacity to be and do good things in their life. The problem is we don’t express the goodness God wants us to express. As human beings, we are not pure and clean. Stopping wars would be a great thing for God to do. What may be a greater thing is for each of us to be honest about ourselves. If each and every person on the face of this earth was really honest and admitted their faults and shortcomings, admitted there were things they wanted other people owned, then there would be no wars. If every person was totally honest, God wouldn’t have to stop wars. If everyone was totally honest, wars would stop automatically. Sooner or later, everything gets down to us. Wars begin with one person wanting something another owns. Usually what is being fought over is land or territory. If no individual wanted land or territory possessed by someone else, there would be no war.

God could stop wars by putting invisible barriers or shields between countries so bullets, planes and bombs could not get through. But if this were all God did, men would still want what others have. Men and women would still hate each other enough to kill each other. Men and women would still hate each other enough to rape, rob, and plunder.

In the overall big picture here, although we have saved lives with our technologies, not much has changed in the hearts of men. There is still hatred. What God wants most from you, is for no war to exist inside of your heart and inside the hearts of all people. Until there is peace within every heart, we haven’t gained much.

Question 2.

If God cared about us like we want to believe He cares about us, wouldn’t God stop sickness, pain, disease, and death?

For reasons we cannot fathom or understand, God has not acted like we want Him to act. God has not stopped sickness, pain, disease, and death. But why not? When I started putting this message together I hoped I could come up with a really great answer on this question about sickness, pain, death, and disease. I thought I would be able to show how God still cared about us even though he has not stopped sickness, pain, death and disease.

My grandmother used to say life is a test. God continually tests us with all kinds of difficult things in our life. I like grandmother's explanation. Jesus was tempted almost to the point of not being able to bear it. Jesus was crucified and could not take the physical torture of it without exerting power God did not want exerted, therefore Jesus died. If there was ever a time when God should have stopped everything, the moment of Jesus' torture should have been the time.

From my perspective as a little human being, God should have said “No more!” upon the first instance of Christ's torture. However, God let things keep going, and Jesus died on the cross. Then three days later, Jesus came back to life. And man had what man had little of before. Man had hope. Man had an idea death is not the end. Man had the idea death is the beginning of something new, fresh, and wonderful.

If God had done what I would have done, and stopped Christ's torture and crucifixion, there would be no coming back to life. There would be no hope, no light, and prospect of a future life beyond this one except the future life dimly painted in the old testament. What darkness there would be upon the earth! What a terrible place the world would be without the hope of eternal life through Christ!

But couldn’t God stop the sickness, pain, disease, and death in the world now?

Yes God could. If we took a vote of all people everywhere, a majority of all people everywhere would vote "Yes" to have God stop the sickness, pain, disease, and death in the world now. Imagine all the people of the world took this vote. Imagine everything stopped for a day on earth and we voted. Imagine after the vote, everyone, everywhere looked up to God to see what He would do. Millions of people would look upward into the sky waiting for God to answer.

What would God say? God would likely say “Yes! Yes, I am going to stop all sickness, pain, disease, and death. But not right now. There is a time when I will do what you want. When you die, depending upon the decisions you make today, all sickness, pain, disease, and death will disappear in your life. And you can live in paradise forever. Someday, the people living on earth will see me come back to earth again. Then I will wipe away every tear from their eye. But right now I need to let things keep going as they are going. For awhile longer, things will have to stay the same. You will have to wait, not because I don’t love you but because I do love you. I love you dearly. I just need to let you express your humanity a while longer. I need for you to show other people in your life and in your world you love them and care about them.”

This might be God’s reply to our vote and our waiting and watching the sky but no one knows for sure about what God would do if people took such a vote. The world is so full of evil today, even taking such a vote could cause a war to break out!

However, let's think about this. One of the greatest opportunities we have to show love is when other people are in suffering. God would tell us when we show people love, at that moment we are showing them God exists. Showing people love at the worst moments is sort of like taking the worst and making the best out of it. God has no higher calling on your life than for you to show others love. God has no higher goal for you to reach, than to use the terrible plight of others than to show others love.

In sickness, pain, disease, and death we have an enormous opportunity to show people we love them and care about them. If there was no suffering in the world, there would be no opportunity to show people we love them and care about them.

Grandma was right about life being a test. The question on the test is not whether we can take suffering. The question on the test is not about whether we can endure suffering. The question on the test is, “Can you still love God in spite of your tough times while passing on the love of God to others?”

Loving God is easy when things are going great. In fact, when things are going great, we usually slack off, and don’t care much about God. However, when things are tough, God wants to know, “Do you still love me in spite of these tough times? In spite of everything, do you still love me?” The answer to this question in your life right now may be more important than taking away the suffering in your world. Yes, God can take away the sickness, pain, disease, and death of the world, but getting your answer to whether you love God no matter what, may be more important than erasing all the sickness, pain, disease, and death.

So what will your answer be?

This message was not fiction. The message appeared in March,  2011, in the Virtual Church web site at http://www.findthepower.com

 

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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (RSV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Copyright © 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Shepherd's Care Ministries author and webmaster, Rev. Patrick Kelly, is affiliated through ministerial ordination with Church of God Ministries, Anderson IN 46018