Do not blame God for the evils of men.
These were the first words the Holy Spirit spoke through me. I was in a Colorado microbrewery, and still very much a baby (born again) Christian.
The bartender saw the cross around my neck and began spouting his anger with God. He told me a story of how a mob of Christian men came to his childhood home and tried to burn it down. I can’t remember the specifics, but I believe it was a racially motivated event.
He told me, “God did that to me and to my family. I am very angry at God.”
Even before I knew I had opened my mouth, I heard myself say, “Do not blame God for the evils of men.” And immediately, I was shocked at my words.
The hardest thing about the rest of that conversation was not acting surprised! I kept thinking to myself, “Play it cool… play it cool.”
But, here I was, completely terrified because I just said something confrontational to this man who was 1) older than me, 2) taller than me 3) angrier than me and 4) my friends were trying to get free beer off of him! All these circumstances said I should shut my mouth. But there I was saying, “Do not blame God for the evils of men.”
Ok. Awkward. I braced for the counter attack I was used to getting from non-believers. But, it never came. To my shock, this man seemed to absorb this idea and after a short pause he said, “huh…!” As if to say, “Interesting, I’d never thought of it that way before.”
I continued, “Men have a choice in what they will do. It is a shame they use the name of God to carry out their evils, but that is not necessarily what God wants.” The topic changed pretty quickly after that. As far as I know, the bartender did not get all spirit-filled and give his life to Christ that night. But he didn’t tell me I was crazy either.
I was reminded of this encounter this week after reading a number of disturbing comments on facebook regarding the Christian faith. It seems the hypocritical actions of Christians are once again in mainstream news.
First, the one year anniversary of World Vision’s decision to hire employees in a gay marriage and then sudden reversal of that decision came around last week. This caused an extreme emotional reaction that left more than 10,000 children in third world countries to suddenly lose their $1/day sponsors almost overnight.
Then, Indiana’s governor recently signed legislation, which has been said will give Christians the ability to legally discriminate against the LGBT community. Neither one of these scenarios is great press.
I do not wish to comment on what was done right or wrong with these issues in this blog, however. What I would like to address is the unnerving number of comments I read below these news articles. One after the other, self-proclaimed Christians declared they no longer want to be Christian as a result of the actions of other intolerant Christians who have emerged amidst these controversies.
And suddenly I remembered my conversation back in Colorado. I wanted to shout again from the rooftops, “Do not blame God for the evils of men!”
God gives us free will. It is His gift to us. Unfortunately, for thousands of years people have abused this gift to do harm (and, yes, sometimes in the name of God). But, please, do not blame God for their abuse of this gift.
Jesus, dying and nailed to a cross as the Lord turned His back, did not blame God for the evils of men. In fact, He didn’t even blame men for their own sins. Instead He prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
That image is the center of my faith: complete surrender and complete forgiveness for the hateful actions of fearful, broken people.
Do you have a hard time trusting in Christians? Yeah, me too. Do you have trouble trusting non-Christians? Yeah, me too.
Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t ask me to put my faith in people to experience freedom. He doesn’t ask me to subscribe to any culture – not even the mainstream Christian culture. He asks me to put my faith in Him and follow His teaching.
“Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit.” – Ephesians 4:14
And no matter how many Christians make hurtful decisions with hateful words, I will not blame God for the evils of men. Instead, I’ll remember my savior’s willingness to surrender & forgive. I will focus my eyes on Him alone and give Him my best (though never perfect) attempt to follow His example.