One thing that I love about “freely receiving and freely giving” is that it frees us up to visit small church body gatherings as well as larger ones. This is possible, as many of you know, because we only ever ask that our travel expenses be reimbursed. Alturas was definitely a reminder of this.
Alturas is a small town in Northern California with a population in the ballpark of only about 2,800 people.
It was requested that I come to share some material from my book, Finding the Father, with special emphasis on the sections that relate to the problem of human suffering. Granted, this is only a “philosophical problem” for those who simply say that God is good. For those who say that God looks like the person we find in the Jesus story, then we see not a God who is omni-controlling over everything and where His will is always done. Instead, we picture a God who has to try twice to heal and sometimes can’t heal. We see a God who is engaged in a formidable struggle against powers and wills opposing His own and preventing His will from being done “on earth as it’s done in heaven.” As Origen wrote in the third century, “[Christians] make a being opposed to God; devil, and in the Hebrew tongue, Satanas are the names which they give to the same being . . . when the greatest God indeed wishes to confer some benefit upon men, He has a power which is opposed to Him, and so is unable to do it . . . [God] is worsted by the devil.” (Origen of Alexandria (185-254 A.D.); Contra Celsum) And He is inviting US to engage in this warfare along side Him. (see Ephesians 6.12)
It was a wonderful weekend for all who attended. It was filled with beautiful paradigms shifts as we all experienced more deeply the belief that God actually does look like that Jewish carpenter from 2,000 years ago.
So many today are hurting. The suffering on this planet is beyond our intellectual comprehension and our emotional capacity. If nothing else, this weekend left us with not only a better philosophical answer to the contradiction of God’s love and the monumental presence of human suffering, but hopefully also with the desire to actually get out and engage genuinely with those who are hurting to make a significant difference, just as our Mentor did two thousand years ago, and to today, in the here and the now, bring deliverance, along side Him, to “all who were under the power of the devil” (Acts 10.38; cf. 1 John 5.18, TNIV).
I am convinced that if more followers of Jesus were out there (praise God for those who are) making a practical difference in the lives of those who are hurting around us, it would be infinitely easier for others to believe that the sad state of this world does not rightly represent the character of the God that we follow. It would be easier for them to accept that “an enemy did this” (Matthew 13.28).
For those who were praying for this event, thank you. It was a tremendous blessing for all who attended. Wherever you are today, make a difference. Love subversively. Love like Christ until the only world that remains is a world where love reigns.
I love you guys,