Focus- Focused Faith in a Blurred World
Why do you let us do bad things?
Recruiting/Saturday Night Services/Pizza & Pastors
Allow me to tell you three short stories which carry a common theme! To drive in the much-faster carpool lane in New York, you obviously have to be carpooling. (That is you have to have more than one person in the car.) When a 61-year-old woman couldn't find someone to fill the passenger seat so she would qualify, she opted for the next best thing: she found a mannequin, dressed it in clothes, a wig, and some sunglasses, and off she went. She has since been ticketed by police and now must pay a $135 fine.[i] BAD CHOICE!
Cleveland Police attempt to pull a man over for a traffic violation. This man tries to allude police in his car. He hits speeds up to 90 mph.[ii] He realizes he can’t shake the police, so he abandons his car and starts to run. Police pursue him on foot. This man then encounters a large fence, so he decides to climb and jump the fence only to discover he’s now in an actual prison yard.[iii] That’s right – this man jumped right into the State Women’s Prison in Cleveland. BUMMER #2!
Just a few weeks ago a Garda Armored Car had a big bag of cash fall out of a door into a busy intersection in Whitehall. The bag hit the pavement and was then run over by another car splitting open. Callers told a 911 dispatcher “money - $20 bills are floating all over the place.” Police recovered $100,000 - $12,000 was taken but later returned but people at the scene, but $100,000 still remains missing. Sgt. Dan Kelso of the Columbus police said, “The people that have come in and been honest and turned in money, those people haven’t been charged. That’s what people need to do because if we have find them, which is what we’re doing, we are going to charge them. “It’s not free money!”[iv]
It’s not – you mean “Finders keepers losers weepers” doesn’t apply here! BAD CHOICE #3! And my response to all three of those stories is a quote from Sir Walter Scott who said so long ago, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!”[v] As usual – I’m curious. Have you ever been deceived? Have you ever been the one doing the deceiving? We hear these stories and think, “How can you be so stupid? Dressing a mannequin – running away from cops – taking money that doesn’t belong to you! Those things are bad. And those who do bad things are bad people! At least one teenager in this church had questions relating to the bad things we do in this world. Today we are in week three of our eight week series called Focused Faith in a Blurred World. This teenager’s question is very simple. Why do you let us do bad things? I find that question really intriguing. I’ve heard versions of it my whole life. Questions like “Why do good people do bad things?” OR “Why do you allow us to go through bad times?” This teenager has “thrown in” an interesting twist. Instead of asking, “Why do we do bad things? He or she wants to know – why do you allow us to do bad things! Inotherwords, God are you the one to blame here? You should just program us to love you – serve you – and not do bad things!
The Apostle Peter helps us understand a valuable doctrine or teaching called “free will.” Turn in your Bibles to 2 Peter 2.
Do you need a Bible? Peter was one of Jesus’ apostles and one of his closest friends. Peter writes two letters. Letter #1 is to encourage Christians suffering for their faith. (Jesus – Easy Button –t-shirt) Letter #2 is to warn Christian people of false teachers. False teachers are easily identified because they are greedy and they teach the opposite of Scripture. They teach that Jesus was not virgin born, he did not die (Doritos Commercial) Were you one of the 106.5 million[vi] people who watched Super Bowl 44? The Saints beat the Colts! Did you happen to see the winning Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl challenge? This video was made by a church, The Mosaic, in Los Angeles. Watch this. Jesus wasn’t faking. He wasn’t hiding out in some tomb eating his favorite Middle Eastern snack. Jesus was dead. They taught that he did not rise from the dead and may never come back! Let’s start with verse 1. (1-3) False teachers are not going to get away with this. God wouldn’t let it happen in the past. He won’t let it happen now. (Read verse 4) You and I are not God’s only creation. He also made the angels (Gabriel, Michael, Lucifer) and just like angels God gave (Gabriel, Michael, Lucifer) a choice! Have you ever played this game before? “He loves me. He love me not!” This is not true of God. He loves you. But it IS TRUE of us. We can choose to love him or to choose NOT to love him – believe in him or serve him.
Listen closely to what Dr Jack Cottrell said in his book, The Faith Once for All, “Without the ability to choose, one can neither be praised for good choices nor held responsible for wrong choices.”[vii] So the answer to our question - Why do you let us do bad things? Is this – it’s because God loves us. Back in 1984 when I asked my wife Tricia to marry me - she said yes. Now did she say yes because she had to or because she wanted to? There’s a difference isn’t there? God could say to all of us – “YOU LOVE ME! I command that you love me. I command that you serve me, believe in me and trust me!” Well, that isn’t love that’s domination! We don’t like being made to love so why do we think God would like it either?
I’m no old or new Spock but follow this question logically – “God, why do you let us do bad things? I allow you to do bad things because I love you. I love you enough to allow you to choose.” Now we could close up shop right here. “Oh, God allows me to choose between right & wrong or good and bad.” Great. The problem is we often choose what’s wrong and bad. We’ve made bad choices. Those bad choices are known as sin. Peter tells us. “Don’t ignore your own sin! God judges sin!” Do you need an example? How about three? Go back to verse 4 in 2 Peter! (4-10) Peter is clear. False teachers will be judged by God. God did that in the past and he will certainly do that in the future! You see God takes sin seriously. He lets us choose, but he can’t fathom why we wouldn’t want to choose HIM!
And why don’t we choose HIM? The one who made us? The one who gave us his son? Because just like Adam & Eve - we are so easily deceived. What deceives us? Last March the USA Today printed the survey results of 3,000 U.S. adults identifying the differences and similarities between what men and women say tempts them the most. They called this survey Temptation Calling. This survey determined the big five. Power: Men (2 percent), Women (7 percent) -- Alcohol: Men (7 percent), Women (2 percent) -- Money: Men (14 percent), Women (15 percent) -- Food: Men (29 percent), Women (56 percent) -- Sex: Men (50 percent), Women (22 percent)[viii]
We can be deceived by power, by alcohol, by money, by food and by sex. Where are you getting your information about the Big Five? The Bible tells us that real power is found in serving, that too much alcohol will lead to many bad decisions, that money is not evil but loving it is, that food is good, but too much of it will kill you and that the best sex happens between a committed man & woman in marriage! The people in Peter’s day were being led into thinking their bad choices were no big deal! Go back to verse 1 – (who bought them) How did Jesus buy us back? His death on the cross pays our debt - for all of our bad choices. John Ortberg told this story, “In May 2009, my family was in Azusa, California, because one of our kids was graduating from Azusa Pacific University. My wife, Nancy, was going to speak at the commencement ceremonies, so she and I were invited to a special gathering of about 50 people—people from the graduating class of 50 years ago and a few faculty members. During the gathering John Wallace, the president of Azusa Pacific, brought out three students who were graduating that year and told us that for the next two years, they were going to serve the poorest of the poor in India.
These three students thought they were there just to be commissioned and sent out with a blessing—which they were. But then something happened that they did not know was coming. John Wallace turned to them and said, “I have a piece of news for you. There's somebody you do not know—an anonymous donor—who is so moved by what you're doing that he has given a gift to this university in your name, on your behalf.” John turned to the first student and said, "You are forgiven of your debt of $105,000." The kid immediately starts to cry. John turns to the next student: "You are forgiven of your debt of $70,000." He then turns to the third student: "You are forgiven of your debt of $130,000." All three students had no idea this was coming. They were just ambushed by grace—blown away that somebody they don't even know would pay their debt. The whole room was in tears.[ix]
I don’t know who paid their debt. But I know who paid your debt and mine. His name is Jesus Christ – God’s one and only Son. Paul said it this way in Romans 5:9: “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!”
An office supervisor had to have a word with a new employee who never arrived at work on time. He explained to her that tardiness was unacceptable and that other employees had noticed her walking in the door late every day. After listening, she agreed that this was a problem and asked, "Is there another door I could use?” There is no other door! Don’t run from God – run to him.
[i] http://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/search_print.html?query=why do you let us do bad things&type=word&filter=&tone=
[iii] www.preachingtoday.com News You Can Use/ Did the Barbed Wire Not Serve as a Clue? *
[iv] www.huffingtonpost.com/Money MISSING
[vii] Jack Cottrell, The Faith Once For All, 169