From episode: Healing from an Unjust World Wound
God frequently takes credit for the bad things that happen to the Israelites in the Old Testament, which can be a serious challenge for believers to navigate. Especially after we have something unjust happen to us personally. I remember being an atheist, and it was a top priority for me to understand how Christians did the mental gymnastics to get from being okay personally to being okay with children dying in the world from AIDS and awful experiences. I just couldn't put those two things together. I would frequently ask, especially after I got saved and I had met God. He was obviously good and kind to me. He had presented Himself that way to me, which often conflicted with what I was reading in the Bible. When I came across these moments where God didn't seem good in the Old Testament, I was confused, 'why is He taking credit for all the bad things that are happening to the Israelites?' I get it that the Israelites were often acting awful, but so does every other human I've ever met. Most of them are hiding that, but it doesn't make it any less true. If God can justify treating the Isrealites that way because of their actions then we are all screwed. And, you know, as a new Christian I still didn't have a very good perception of humanity. I had become very cynical and negative, even with all the anxiety gone that the Lord had healed me from in the crazy conversion encounter that I had with the Lord. There was still a lot of twisted thinking within me.
God's adamant in the Old Testament. He says, "Don't let me off the hook here. This is my doing. I take responsibility for that awful thing that happened. (paraphrasing here of course)" So where does that go? Where do we put it while we believe that God is good? And I mean, depending on your theology, there are a lot of different versions of that answer. To further complicate the matter, the Bible also seems to make it clear that we cannot stand in gray areas. But just living life clearly demonstrates an alternative to that idea. And you may say, 'If the Bible says it, then it's true.' And that statement is a good example of an inability to stand in the middle, in the gray. But Jesus integrates so much, bringing issues together into gray areas. And in one sense, they're not gray at all. They're very black and white, but in another felt experience, they are gray. For example, each one of us has experienced redemption. Each one of us has met Jesus Christ in salvation. If we've met Jesus, then we've met a God who enters into sin because Jesus is fully man, but he's also fully God. Jesus enters the gray in just that reality alone.
I had a big open wound here with the just-world theories and values I held as a former atheist. Values that hadn't transformed yet. I grappled with the encounter experiences I had with a God who was clearly good, and I believed His word about inflicting harm on ancient Israelis. So when I saw this other contradiction where Jesus enters into gray areas, I slowly put it together that God didn't want the world the way it is. God didn't want a fallen world. If God had agreed with the fallen world, worked to cause harm within it, and not cared to fix it, it would be different, but He so loves the world that He gave. He gives into the deficit, paying a price to change it. Some say He bankrupted heaven. He gave His son because He didn't like the world of children dying from AIDs the way it is and wanted to fix it. When I began to understand that contradiction as a gray area that wasn't gray, it became black and white that God was good. That was how I healed from the brokenness and torment that this just-world question brought me. I couldn't heal from the idea that God is just mysterious, He is, but He's also just, and for me this issue required an answer or else I was left with a wound that wouldn't heal. I hope this blesses someone today.