44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:44-45, King James Version)
Why does God allow evil to continue? Why doesn’t He root it up? Why doesn’t He punish wicked men immediately? The above verse is sometimes trotted out as God’s mercy and lovingkindness even for the wicked. In one sense, that might be true, but I think that viewpoint only tells part of the story.
In the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, Jesus says something that adds a 2nd dimension to our perception:
28He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
29But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
30Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. (Matthew 13:28-30, King James Version)
Here we see that God does not strike at the wicked right away so that His servants can stay rooted until the harvest (resurrection).
But, could there be a 3rd dimension? You bet! Think about Abraham talking to God right before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham reasoned that God as a just Judge would not destroy the righteous with the wicked. It is important to note that even if cities then were much smaller, Abraham talked God down to probably less than .01%. If even 10 righteous lived in that city, God would not have destroyed it.
So, we see 3 reasons for which God does not immediately strike the wicked:
1. God is merciful and patient. Hopefully, you understand this after yesterday’s post.
2. God is sparing the righteous by not completely obliterating the wicked.
3. The presence of the righteous blesses those around them, just as sin affects the innocent. There is a lesson both ways here.
OK, so do you now know where I’m going to jab? Sure, you do! Sodom and Gomorrah were city-states, worldly governments. They had leaders, and they had followers. The church has leaders, and it has followers.
When you see unrighteous acts in the church, then could that fall into one of the three categories? When you see bad behavior (or at least the perception of it) by church leaders, then could that fall into one of these categories? When you see members reacting in a manner that is puzzling in reaction to church leaders, could that also fall into one of these categories?
Finally, get out a mirror and ask yourself why God chooses to have mercy. After all, you better check for beams while you are looking for specks. Are you really doing your best to be in category 3 where the righteous bless others?
Ohhhh — THAT was your point. I saw "just and unjust" and "love your enemies," and thought you were going to comment on LeBron James leaving Cleveland. 🙂
@Richard: Yeah, a lot of people around here are pretty upset. But, you know, at some point every professional has to take control of their career. I really have to ask myself if him staying here would really mean the Cavs becoming the team to beat or not. Frankly, I think they were holding him back. I'm sure that's not going to be a popular opinion to write, though. 🙂