The other day I was talking to a man who comes from a different religious background than myself. Though not a Christian, he is a fine man and a real thinker. He asked me some honest questions which had been troubling him. Why is there inequality in the world? Why are some people born in countries which have peace and plenty, while others are born in countries characterized by instability and need? Is God just in allowing this to happen? Indeed, seeing the inequality around us and especially the way in which children suffer, how could there be a God?
Just like the problem of suffering, the problem of inequality is a real one and a problem you must be prepared to answer. Yes, sometimes people will ask us deep theological questions and we must be prepared to answer their questions. But more often people will raise questions dealing with the human condition. Frankly, they are more interested in their own problems than in a reasonable explanation concerning the Trinity. So while the Trinity is very important for us to understand, we need to work to develop answers to the questions we are likely to be asked.
The problem of inequality is much like the problem of suffering. In both cases we must not blame God for other people’s actions. With regard to inequality in the world, it is important that we understand that we as a society benefit or suffer from the consequences of the collective decisions made by our society. The message of Romans chapter 1 applies to societies as much as it applies to individuals. When societies reject the light God has given them and when they exchange the truth of God for a lie, God gives them over to a depraved mind. We misinterpret the Bible if we think Romans chapter 1 is only speaking of sexual immorality. Yes, it does speak clearly about sexual immorality, but verses 29 to 32 describe personal sin and social chaos on a wider scale. If we as a society reject God’s truth we will end up with a society full of suffering, injustice and inequality.
So how does this work itself out practically? If a society sees no need to sacrifice to allow all children to obtain an education, can God be blamed for ignorance? If a society is unwilling to speak out about violence against women, can God be blamed for the suffering which results? If a society is unwilling to spend money on childhood immunizations, is God to blame for preventable diseases? In countries such as North America they continue to experience the benefits of living in a society formed with a Christian foundation. This is not to say all politicians in the past had personal faith in Christ. But all had an understanding of reality which saw biblical principles as the best foundation for law and government. And so, while Christian influence is fading, we continue to enjoy the benefits in our society. This inequality in the world is not because God is unjust, but because individuals benefit or suffer from the collective decisions made by a society.
I explained this to my friend. How he will respond remains to be seen, but he did make one amazing comment. He said that if God came down to earth and showed Himself to mankind, there would be less evil in this world. I was able to tell him that God had done this very thing in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Because of the influence of Jesus Christ on a world of sin and in the hearts of sinners, this world is a better place. Indeed, we now have hope! Read Ephesians chapter 2.
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