Do Not Mistake God’s Tolerance for Indifference
We assume by the way we live that we are owed only good and not evil. But in a world without God – without His goodness – why should we expect goodness? Why should man experience good at all? Why not mostly bad? If people want to think there is no God or that He doesn’t care, why complain about bad? Without God, there is no rhyme or reason why the world should be a place of blessing at all.
In ages past, God destroyed the world with a flood because “the intent of man’s heart is only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). Yet now, after the flood, God vows that He will never again destroy the world “even though the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21-22). This is an amazing commitment from God – a commitment of continual seasons for harvesting and for living and enjoying life.
Jesus likewise points out God’s grace and tolerance: “...for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).
It doesn’t change the fact that God is not happy about man’s heart leaning towards evil, but He has given a guarantee that He will not destroy the world in like manner ever again… “even though the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21). In other words, God is granting blessing to the world and restraining His judgement.
Many people, however, take for granted the blessings of God’s patience and tolerance as they experience the rains, the seasons and harvests year after year. All this goodness is just assumed with no thought as to why such goodness is the norm. Granted, there are exceptions but they are just that – exceptions!
This means that no one should think that the future will be the same. There is clear indication that God’s period of grace and tolerance does not extend to post physical life.
As a church, we try to tell of what God has done in turning a person’s heart away from the intent of evil (as defined by God), but many do not listen.
God’s remedy was to send Jesus into the world to awaken them to the reality of their disconnect with God. Through Christ, God dealt with this age old problem and brokered a way to have this “evil in the heart” dealt with.
Sadly, Jesus is dismissed with cavalier whim by those who think naturalism/materialism is all there is. They cannot see that all this goodness the “world” seems to give them actually comes from God. If we assume naturalism, then there is no reason for assuming goodness to be the norm; because without a moral compass – as in God – good and bad don’t exist. There are no values to a neutral morality!
The message of Christ is, therefore, that He is the only avenue by which God has channelled His anger away from humanity. Accomplished through the death and resurrection of Christ, God has dealt with our heart problem (sin and guilt) both by His forgiveness and the effect of a changed life.
Echuca Community Church
For publication in the Riverine Herald 07-05-2021