b) Apostle Paul tells us, we are to “be

b) “What is your
understanding of evil as it exists in the world”

            At some point we all come into
contact with evil in this world, so how we think about evil can affect our understanding
of God, the world, and ourselves. Many people cannot make a decision to have
faith in God unless they can reconcile the existence of evil with the existence
of God.

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            We read in Ephesians 6:12 that evil
forces are present in both the earthly and heavenly realms. But evil also
exists as the result of human sin. In the beginning, when God created this
world, God declared God’s creation to be “very good” (Gen. 1:31). Specifically,
God created man and woman in God’s own image, giving them dominion over
creation, the ability to create new life through their union, and free will
(Gen. 1:26-28). As we see in Genesis 3, humans gave in to the temptation to
exercise their will for their own end, and they chose to sin and turn away from
God. In fact, all human beings are far removed from a state of righteousness and
are inclined to evil.1 That inclination is not a
reflection of God’s character or power. According to Augustine our inclination
to evil reflects the corruption of the free will God has given to humans.2

But, we are not alone, and we have reason
to hope. God responds to our cries. God’s
grace is manifested in all creation despite the presence of suffering,
violence, and evil.3 God
is with us, and God’s grace enables us to reject evil and turn to God. In
addition, God equips believers to share God’s love, and hope with those who are
suffering. This is an important aspect of ministry, and as an ordained elder
one of my roles will be to walk alongside people through their times of sorrow
and grief, reminding myself and them that there is nothing that can separate us
from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:39). As the Apostle Paul
tells us, we are to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power,” so that we
can stand strong, pray in the Spirit, and be alert against evil (Eph. 6:10-11,
18). Furthermore, the book of Revelation tells us that at a future date God
will live with God’s people and wipe every tear from their eyes, and death,
mourning, crying, and pain will cease (Rev. 21:4). One day, when God’s kingdom
is brought to complete fruition, all creation will be transformed and evil will
be brought to an end.

1 The Book of Discipline of the United
Methodist Church, 2016, ¶104.

2 Thomas
C. Oden, Classic Christianity, 156.

3 The Book of Discipline of the United
Methodist Church, 2016, ¶102