A few weeks ago, while standing outside the doors of our sanctuary following our Upward Basketball Celebration, a grandfather of one of the little dribblers pulled me aside to ask a question saying, “Pastor, I need your help. My grandchild asked me the other day, why does God allow tornadoes and storms to destroy homes and take the lives of people? So what do you think and what should I say?”
I must confess I would have been a bit more comfortable talking to this grandfather of a little basketball player about the advantages of zone defense vs. man-to-man defense on the court, but I knew I needed to help him navigate one of the many spiritual mine fields we face together.
So what would you say in a conversation that would last less than fifteen minutes but could actually be the basis of a graduate theological class for an entire semester? Before I share how I replied, let me fast forward to another conversation after a recent church service where I preached on the two most important people who have ever lived—Adam and Jesus. With a big smile on his face one of our members inquired, “Where did Adam’s sons get their wives?” In this case, I smiled thinking to myself, “I don’t have any idea!”
If you have been paying attention you realize we live in a rapidly changing society. When one compares the beliefs of the “Greatest Generation” with their great, great grandchildren at times it is hard to believe they came from the same family and grew up in the same nation. For instance, 75% of the “Greatest Generation” would say religion remains a very important part of their lives and 56% attend church nearly every week, while only 40% their great, great grandchildren the “Millennials” would concur that religion is a very important part of their lives, and only 18% attend worship on a regular basis according to the Pew Research Center in 2010.
If you look at the trends on moral issues in American from same-sex unions, immigration, legalization of marijuana, and abortion one can see the “faith of our fathers” must have taken a detour at some point along the way. Take the fundamental question of “Where did we come from…did we evolve or were we created by God?” 50% of those with gray hair and a birth certificate dating back to the 1940’s at least would confess they believe God created human beings in their present state, while 65% of those born after 1980 would state the human race evolved into its present form with or without the help of God.
Peter, one of Jesus’ closest friends, challenged the believers in the first century who lived in a world much like our own to be ready and willing to stand up and speak out for the cause of Christ saying: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” (1 Peter 3:15-16 ESV)
Back to my answer to the grandfather, I reminded him to never underestimate how the curse of sin has marred creation.