There is a question being thrown around a lot recently, in particular aimed at Rob Bell in an interview soon after the devastation of the Boxing Day Tsunamis in 2011 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vg-qgmJ7nzA).
“Which of these is true: ‘God is all powerful, but he doesn’t care or he cares but isn’t all powerful’.”
After reading it several times, I stopped to think about the question and what a Biblical answer would be.
Perhaps the question is irrelevant because the presupposition that death is ‘wrong’ or ‘evil’ is incorrect, or at the very least, not the view God has. Jesus says:
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” Matt 10:28
It seems to me that God views death as ‘not that big a deal’ – which is a shock for us in our modern world. We are so sure of ourselves as humans, with science and technology by our side, we confidently stride forwards, curing disease and discovering how to make our lives easier and longer. But yet we are terrified of what awaits us beyond the grave, we ‘rage, rage against the dying of the light ‘. We don’t blink at the thought of using a machine that costs a million dollars a day to keep a family member on life support. We cling to life for fear of what lies beyond this mortal veil. Rather than worshipping God, we now worship ourselves. But when god (ourselves) dies, then what? I don’t mean to be callous, cold or indifferent, merely rational. I can understand and relate to the fear death, and sympathise with those who have experienced loss.
And so can God. He watched his only son die, as one of us.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are…” Hebrews 4:15
God came, suffered and died. He is not ignorant to the pain, suffering and fear associated with death. He is filled with incredible empathy, because he became one of us, and died as one of us. God surely cares, there is no doubt.
It’s only death…
The natural consequence of life, is death. Why are we shocked when it happens? But we don’t cease to exist. Yet the reason why God is so unperturbed by death, is that we are eternal beings. We are known to God before, during and after the flame of our life is extinguished. Compared to forever, life is infinitesimal – but a paragraph in the encyclopaedia of eternity. The apostle James says that our life is but “a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
So before we go accusing God of not being good, or not being God – we should ask ourselves what we fear about death. Is it because we are our own god? Is humanity’s propensity for self aggrandisement and self worship the reason for our great fear of the end of our lives? The Bible says that we are given life, and we are allotted time to live and a time to die. Death is not evil, it is the beginning of something new. Worship the eternal God, not humanity and not yourself.
God is good, he is all powerful and he cares immensely.