Sermon: Tree to Tree
Scripture: Genesis 3:6-7 / Romans 3:23 / Romans 6:23 / Colossians 2:13-14
ICE BREAKER: Share who your favorite actor/actress was growing up and why.
This week we looked at the problem of PAIN. This one issue has kept countless people from coming to faith, caused many others to walk away from faith, and is used by famous atheists to mock Christian faith altogether. The argument goes something like this:
If God is good, why is there Pain in the world? Why do people suffer? How do you account for the tragedies, devastations, and natural catastrophe’s we seem to see almost daily?
This is a major issue for Believers to address. For far too long, the church answer has just been, "it's simply God's will." While that is true, we CAN give a more robust answer that actually gives context and purpose for how painful our lives can be.
Have you ever struggled with wondering why a good God would allow so much evil?
Do you have friends or family who have rejected faith for this reason?
The issue with "getting rid of God" on atheism, is that the problem of pain becomes WAY more painful! We looked at a quote from Charles Dawkins about the true nature of a godless world:
“In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”
On atheism, you can't even call evil, "Evil." There is no ground to stand on to say that suffering and pain or good or bad. All there is, is pitiless indifference.
So what is the Christian answer? We saw this week that it exists between two trees. The first tree was in the garden of eden. It was the tree that mankind first disobeyed God at. This rebellion plunged the world into chaos and suffering. The first tree is the source of the Problem of Pain.
However, that moment also teaches us WHY God would allow pain in the first place. It shows that God made a world of rules. While we don't naturally like rules, they are essential because RULES ESTABLISH RELATIONSHIP!
The first tree also shows us that God gave us freedom. God is Love and LOVE REQUIRES FREEDOM. If you are not free to choose to follow the Rules that establish Relationship, then you are not able to Love - you are a robot at best or a slave at worst.
Suffering entered the world because God LOVED us enough to create us as free beings - even knowing that we could use that freedom to break free from our relationship with Him. Rules establish relationship - and breaking those rule break that relationship. We all eat the fruit. We all visit the forbidden tree. We all break the rules. God never leaves us, we choose the path that separates us from Him. In doing so we remove ourselves from the one who brings all that is good. With the world in our hands we all experience suffering. We all have to deal with THE PROBLEM OF PAIN.
That is why there is a Second Tree!
From the moment of mankind's fall, God was paving a way back into perfect relationship with Himself. He showed us that exercising our freedom to sacrifice was the key to reversing the curse of broken a broken connection with Him. God gave His people the law as a new set of rules to establish relationship.
Ultimately, the sacrifices were temporary and the Law too burdensome. This did not take God by surprise, He knew it would be so. Humanity had plunged itself into disaster and it would take a divine act to rescue and redeem. We are incapable of truly making our way back to God - so when the time was right, God came down to us.
4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,
5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
The LAW acted as the Rules that Established the Relationship. But what the Law and the sacrifice of animals could only do temporarily, Jesus came to do eternally.
13 And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he made you alive with him and forgave us all our trespasses.
14 He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it away by nailing it to the cross.
God loves us enough to give us freedom and to make the ultimate sacrifice when our freedom causes us to break His own rules.
What is ONE WAY this perspective on the Problem of Pain changes how you view God or your own life?
If you are a believer, it is time to be bold and courageous sharing your faith. The problem of pain will be a major objection that you hear. Remember the two trees, that Rules Establish Relationship, that Love Requires Freedom, and freedom often breaks those rules.
Take some time to pray through the Pain in your own life. Lift up this new perspective to God and see your suffering in light of it. Ask the Holy Spirit to prepare you to share your faith in a world that is often against God. If you have never believed in Jesus - maybe because you couldn't square the problem of pain - earnestly pray and ask God to show Himself to you throughout this week.