Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Why Would God...?

I was discussing with some friends the weight of the Creation account regarding the origins of all things. One of my rather astute friends challenged the group, “So, why did God even put that tree in the garden?” Of course, the conversation went on for the longest time from that launching pad. And, we all contributed some heavy scriptural answers. But, after all was said, we all realized that our answers were entirely lacking. It was a good question to start a conversation. But, given who we are, only God can truly answer the question since He was the Planter of that tree and the Commander regarding its forbiddance. Over the course of our conversation, some of our partial answers were troubling. Some of them were semi-enlightening. Some of them were pure blanks. It was a near constant struggle. But, God has no such struggle. We realized that in light of man’s limited understanding, our struggle is not logical evidence that a true struggle actually exists. Therefore, our ultimate answer to the question that we all agreed upon was more of a question than an answer: Couldn’t God have adequate eternal reasons beyond our understanding to put the tree there both respecting His determinative sovereignty and our responsibility for our choices? We all concluded that the answer is 100% yes, and with full confidence. It was the most confident conclusion we had made all day. Shouldn’t that be enough for someone of faith?

Many a philosophical or religious question begins with the words, “Why would God…?” It is certainly acceptable to ask all such questions as long as the intent is noble. In fact, even Jesus on the cross asked, “My God, my God, why…?” But, the intent of Jesus in doing so was both prophetic and noble. Jesus was not insulted by the notion of God and what God does. He is God. And, Jesus was not judgmentally questioning from a self-vaulted position of higher ground. Rather, Jesus was asking from His humble flesh, all the while aware that God, His Father, had an answer to the question. For example, have you ever made an unintended change to something only in hindsight to ask yourself, “Why did I do that?” Of course, when you ask yourself the question, you know the answer. By asking yourself the question, you are not doubting the answer, but affirming it.

So, Christian, from that example, we are actually left with two types of “why” questions: noble and not noble. The noble question of asking God “why” from a human perspective, is asked in faith that God has the answer, even if we never will. The noble question is asked not insisting upon an answer, because the noble question presupposes humility on the part of the questioner. From that perspective, there are two types of humility, choice and positional. Choice humility is that like exhibited by Jesus, where He being God chose the low place (Philippians 2:5-11). Positional humility means that you are the lower place. As we approach God, choice humility is truly not an option. Because God is truly unapproachable in arrogance that rises above our station. But, if we are humble, God, like us, is very open to questions. In fact, when Jesus asked why from the cross, He more than had faith, because He knew the answer to His question. In many circumstances, we are not all that different. Sometimes we ask why when we can easily come up with a list of a few valid reasons as to why God would do something a certain way. Humble faith is our option in all circumstances.

Take Job for example. Job had a legitimate question of “why” to God. But, in a couple examples of Job’s many “why” questions, he crossed the line of talking down to God. In most of his questions, he was humble, but in others he was not. For an example of an arrogant Job question, in Job 7:12, Job asks, “Am I the sea, or a sea monster, that you set a guard over me?” And, an example of a humble Job question is Job 7:1, “Has not man a hard service on earth, and are not his days like the days of a hired hand?” The arrogant questions resulted in a fury of pointed questions back from God that put Job back in his place – back in his actual position. But, do you think Job today asks God why? Of course he doesn’t. In fact, not only would Job probably do it all over again if given the chance, even while he was still alive, all of his questions were gloriously answered and Job was honored above all others during his lifetime.

By the way, there are some “why” questions of God that only God can answer in eternity. Most of these questions usually come with agony and grief from love that is lost due to death, disease or other painful circumstances. Yes, here as well God welcomes the humble questions. And, only God can answer them. But, these types of questions too should be asked in the same level of humility that the reality of God demands. These questions too should be approached in faith that God will one day answer in a way that only He can satisfy. And, in such circumstances, we fellow humans are still woefully inadequate to address the questions. We should thus avoid taking God’s position by trying to be God in answering them. That is why in the Job example, his overstepping friends were more humbled by God than even Job was.

But, then there are the “why” questions that are entirely out of bounds – centered on the arrogance of pride. Who is man to demand God to answer anything? Who is man to demand that God’s children answer anything? Who is man to shake his fist at a God that gave man the freedom to shake their fist in reaction to their own evil fists? Upon what authority can man ever assume to ask a fully informed question of God? Can man ever truly ask a fully informed question at all? In truth, over the course of mankind, even though the questions of God are more numerous than we can count, not one single question is fully informed. There has never been a man who even began to understand eternity – except one, Jesus, who is eternal. So, how can any temporal man who uses only approximately 10% of his brain even begin to claim informed status or position? The human life is marked by constant discovery even by the smartest among us, because we know so very little. And, yet God discovers nothing. In contrast, all that man can and will discover is already determined by God. And all that man will discover only scratches the surface of God’s knowledge and intellect. In fact, Psalm 144:3-4 sets it in proper order when the Psalmist says, “O Lord, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.”

Christian, when you begin a question with, “Why would God,” pause yourself. Make sure that you realize who you are and of whom you are about to ask. Feel free to ask God in complete humility and faith. Otherwise, your question will be ignored. James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Romans 14:23b says, “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” That is pretty clear.

In conclusion, Christian, you absolutely should ask God why. When we ask humbly and in faith, God is pleased and will answer your question in due time. Therefore, the more you ask of God in humility and faith, the more you will learn and depend upon He who is the only truly dependable. And, usually, He answers every worthy question in His Word, the Bible. As we ask God questions, may the quantity of our consumption of His Word and its answers outweigh the quantity of our asking.

You can purchase the book "Reason If You Will - How To Answer Questions Regarding Faith" by clicking HERE. Profits go to Camp Bahamas. You can also follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.