A friend of mine, Chris, a student in my Sunday School class several years ago, lost a friend from COVID early this year. Chris had prayed fervently for his friend, but God allowed the friend to die anyway. I shared Chris’ sadness as we talked together. He asked me to write an article addressing the question, “What is the character of God?’” The best place to discover the character of God is in His revelation, both His general revelation, creation, and in His specific revelation, the Bible.
What does a nation look like when God is not there? Or at least when its people live like God is absent.
Events in the world and in America have taken a dark turn at many levels in 2021. The COVID epidemic rages on, though natural and vaccine-related herd immunity is increasing. Political divisions, riots, and even hatred, continue at levels unseen since the American Civil War. False accusations fly without regard for the truth and without considering different perspectives. People and organizations lock down to protect themselves at all costs, and sacrifice individuals regardless of prior contributions or future potential.
People love their pets, and want to know what will happen after they die. The Bible provides an answer.
About two weeks ago I saw John at a riverboat party. The general mood was light, but he stood alone in the shadows, his face stained with dry tears. John and his wife, their children long out of the house, had been forced to put their beloved dog, Gracie, to sleep. I listened long and said little as he shared his heart, and soon the party was over. A few days later he approached me at another gathering.
“Mark, you are a minister, right?”
“Yes, I was ordained as a Southern Baptist minister.”
“Will Gracie go to heaven? I have heard both – some people say that she will, and others say that since she doesn’t have a soul, she won’t.”
He paused. There was silence as I considered my reply. John was still visibly distressed, and I had to be right, but I equivocated.
“Well, the bottom line is that no one knows for sure.”
John’s face fell.
What is the Bible about? Can you answer that question?
Technology has made life physically easier and information (and misinformation) more available while decreasing the work of living (farming, cleaning, cooking, maintaining, etc.). As a result, more people have more time to edify or to entertain themselves than ever before. Meanwhile, man’s naïve belief that technology would bring about utopia (embodied in modernism) has given way to a belief that utopia is not achievable or even desirable. There is no meaning in the universe aside from what man puts into it and the best we can hope for is personal peace and affluence, as defined by each person (reflected in post modernism). No religion, worldview or other metanarrative is any better than another, much less true for all people at all times.
Since the Bible makes exclusive claims to truth, it is diametrically opposed to such relativism. Over the millennia, many people have attacked the Bible, and this is also true today. People attack the Book and those who believe the Book. Respectful debate is good, challenging believers to think through their faith and non-believers to honestly consider the claims of Christ. Such debate, however, seems rare. Human nature being what it is, mockery, discrimination and violence are the order of the day. Persecution of Christians throughout the world, and even in the West, is growing. Many people across the globe are shedding Christian blood, but believers should never fear; the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.