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This is an excerpt from "Coming Home: An invitation to join God's family" from Focus on the family.
To see the full text go here.
The Ideal Father
Let's back up for a minute. To understand God's invitation to join His family, it's important to know who God is. The Bible paints this picture of Him:
In many ways, God is like an excellent human father. He loves His children and is pleased when they love Him in return. He provides for them and protects them. He gives guidance and, when necessary, punishment. He understands their limitations, though, and is quick to forgive. Above all, He is generous (the Bible calls His generosity grace).
In other ways, God is far greater than any human father could ever be. For one thing, He is all powerful. Nothing can keep Him from helping His children. For another, He is all-loving. In God there is no selfishness or pride to interfere with His relationship with His children. God is also all-knowing, so His guidance is completely worthy of trust. Since God is present everywhere at once, His children never have to strike out on their own, and since He is eternal, they never fear being abandoned.
Why Do People Suffer?
The Bible's description of God the Father is most attractive, but it raises some very difficult questions. If a heavenly Father really exists, and if He really satisfies people's deepest longings, why is the world full of unhappy people? What kind of father would let his children get hurt, suffer and die? How can anyone watch the evening news and seriously say that the universe is run by a loving Father?
God is the Supreme Ruler, but He is not the only supernatural power in the universe. Many millennia ago, one of His angels rebelled against Him. The rebel, often called Satan ("the accuser"), wanted to be king of the universe himself. To limit Satan's destruction, God banished him from heaven, but He allowed him to try ruling one little corner of the universe — a planet God created called earth. God didn't give Satan complete control of earth, however. People would be allowed to choose whether to follow Satan or to follow God.
One of the first stories in the Bible tells about mankind's choice to follow Satan. Through Adam and Eve's choice to believe Satan instead of God, earth gained some new experiences that God never intended for it: Pain. Illness. Famine. War. Oppression. Perversion. Murder. These are Satan's contributions, not God's.
Love Versus Tyranny
If God is a powerful and loving Father, why doesn't He do something about the mess on earth?
Actually, He has already done something amazing. God has always ruled the universe through love; Satan has tried to rule through tyranny. God had no intention of using Satan's methods. He would not force people to follow Him. Instead, God would offer them a way of escape from Satan's clutches, and to make their escape possible, He would sacrifice Himself.
Once the first humans chose Satan instead of God, there was no turning back. They would have to die, because death is always the result of choosing Satan. God is a life-giver, but Satan can neither create life nor sustain it. Sadly, Adam and Eve's choice was passed on to everything and everyone else on earth. From their day to ours, death has touched the entire human race.
But God stepped in to deliver the human race from the effects of sin and death.
I came across this in a timely manner. It IS a tough question that comes across my mind once in a while. (why is there suffering?) I know the answer, but sometimes I have to hear it from someone else.
I have to remind myself that if it were not for free will, God's love is pointless. We all have a choice. That is why we get so passionate about reaching people and telling of God's love and how there is a better way to live.
We have to remember that greed, selfishness and hate is not a product of God, it is the will of a sinful man. I believe that selfishness is the single most destructive "thing". Someone once told me that the opposite of love is not hate... it is selfishness. We have the ability to to become completely SELFLESS... but it's hard to think of something harder to achieve. That's where Jesus comes in. He does it for us. If we accept Jesus and believe in Him, we are a new creation. We are perfect in the eyes of God.
That's kind of hard to believe isn't it? I am perfect in the eyes of God?!!?! How could that be? I am sinful, lustful, selfish, hateful, sarcastic, mean, disrepectful and rebellous!!!
Here's the difference - I have accepted Jesus into my heart. It's that simple. Jesus.
"Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you." - Acts 13:38
"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes" Romans 1:16