Friday, February 22, 2013

Church Lessons This Week and Trek Recap: Why Does God Love Evil People?

For those of you who don't know, Jason and I are involved at our church with kids. I am the teacher of our 1st and 2nd grade Sunday school class, and both Jason and I are leaders on our Wednesday night Trek group, which is the continued Awanas program for the middle schoolers.

We love being leaders, but sometimes it's hard because we feel like we miss out on connections with other adults in Sunday school and that we miss out on more intellectual lessons for our age group. Last semester, the entire Trek unit was focused on Moses and the Israelites. Then, in Sunday school, we started on the same unit, so I feel like I've been learning and talking about wandering for 40 years in the desert for months now! (not that it's not an incredibly important lesson, but still!) So I was very excited with our new unit we started in Trek for this semester. All of the lessons are focused on philosophical questions and answers, like "Where did God come from?" It's hard for me sometimes to not get into discussion with our wonderful leader Grant, since he is so knowledgable about these things and I know I don't want to ask questions that are above 12 year old's heads. But it's a breath of fresh air to start focusing on lessons that I can really get in to.

Wednesday, the question of the night was "Why does God allow evil to exist? Why does God still love evil people?" Grant did such a great job setting up the discussions for this one. We had a celebrity "auction," where the kids could bid on items (you know, just pictures of the items) but it was stuff like, The First Edition published manuscript of Romeo and Juliet, a 2014 Dodge Viper, a 1794 silver dollar, stuff like that. He gave the kids each $50,000 in fake money, and allowed them to view all items for a minute before we started the bidding. It was interesting because each of them had picked out the item that they wanted beforehand and each one wanted something different (except for the Viper, which several of them wanted, along with a 30 minute shopping spree in an Apple store). When we were done, we talked about value we place on items. Turned out, the item that was most valuable in terms of resale was the coin, which was $8 million, which no one bid on, by the way. He talked about sin, the origins of sin in Genesis, and value God places on sins and sin.

To answer the above question, about why does evil exist and how can God love evil people, it's actually a pretty simple answer. So, we all know Eve ate the apple from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and gave it to Adam, the one fruit God asked them not to eat from. Well, He knew what He was doing. I mean, He put that tree there in the first place, because that tree did something very important: it gave us a choice. We are not robots, we are humans with the ability to follow God and do what He asks or to do the opposite. The choice is the important part, we have the ability to choose. And we are all evil, or have evil tendencies. To not love one evil-doer is to not love us all, and we all know God loves us above all else.

So, to continue, this lesson was very fascinating to me, because it's something I've always understood. God doesn't differenciate between individual sins. We, as humans, place severity on sins on our own, like, murder is terrible, but lying isn't so bad. We have a tendency to really focus on the ones we find most offensive, like abortion, because to us, it's the worst. But God doesn't. How could He?

Grant made a point that I thought was very poignant - there is a big difference between SIN and SINS. Sin is anything we do that seperates us from God. Sins are the individual sins we commit. God sees SIN, not SINS. And that's ANY sin, not just the "severe" ones. Another thing he had us do was rate sins he gave us on a piece of paper in level of severity. He had them grouped into two categories, sins of commission (sins we commit like lying and adultery) and sins of omission (sins we commit by not doing what Jesus has commissioned us to do). You don't often think of not telling people about Jesus as a sin, or not helping the needy as a sin. But in the Old Testament, God gave us the Ten Commandments, things which NOT to do, and in the New Testament, Jesus expanded on those things with things TO do. We don't usually think that by not doing what Jesus asked of us as a sin, but it is. This was a huge conviction for me, as I am sitting there listening to this lesson.

In church on Sunday, our pastor spoke of the Great Commission ("Go ye therefore and teach all nations...") and we talked about missionaries. He told us we are all missionaries, as it's all of our job to tell the world about Jesus. It's not our place to pick and choose who gets into heaven, is it? And I know I do that. I know I have a fear of telling people sometimes what I know to be true. And I sometimes think it's easier when you are on a mission trip, to tell strangers about Jesus when that's the whole reason you are on the trip in the first place. Often times, it's people we know, that we like, that we don't to offend with our words that we tend to not talk about it to the most. I struggle with this alot; I believe in everyone's right to choose their own life and their own beliefs, so I don't want to cram my beliefts down their throats. This week, I've stopped and said, "Jenna, what are you doing?  The only belief is the one in God, why are you being silent? Especially when God is in control of all things and when He is for you, who can stand against you?" It's almost like when I don't speak out on what I know to be true, I am telling God not only do I not trust Him, but I am limiting His power in my head, that He is not big enough to handle this with me.

I think the sins of ommission this week are what really got me. When God really said, "Jenna, I am speaking to you right now, you realize that, right?" I am going to do better about this. I hear God alot, and I trust Him. Now, I need to do the things that might be harder for me, but that I know He wants from me. Sometimes easier said than done.

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