b) “What is yourunderstanding of evil as it exists in the world”(¶324)? At some point we all come intocontact with evil in this world, so how we think about evil can affect our understandingof God, the world, and ourselves. Many people cannot make a decision to havefaith in God unless they can reconcile the existence of evil with the existenceof God. We read in Ephesians 6:12 that evilforces are present in both the earthly and heavenly realms. But evil alsoexists as the result of human sin.
In the beginning, when God created thisworld, 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 overcreation, 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 toexercise their will for their own end, and they chose to sin and turn away fromGod. In fact, all human beings are far removed from a state of righteousness andare inclined to evil.
1 That inclination is not areflection of God’s character or power. According to Augustine our inclinationto evil reflects the corruption of the free will God has given to humans.2 But, we are not alone, and we have reasonto hope. God responds to our cries. God’sgrace is manifested in all creation despite the presence of suffering,violence, and evil.
3 Godis with us, and God’s grace enables us to reject evil and turn to God. Inaddition, God equips believers to share God’s love, and hope with those who aresuffering. This is an important aspect of ministry, and as an ordained elderone of my roles will be to walk alongside people through their times of sorrowand grief, reminding myself and them that there is nothing that can separate usfrom the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Rom.
8:39). As the Apostle Paultells us, we are to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power,” so that wecan 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 Godwill 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 kingdomis brought to complete fruition, all creation will be transformed and evil willbe brought to an end. 1 The Book of Discipline of the UnitedMethodist Church, 2016, ¶104.2 ThomasC. Oden, Classic Christianity, 156.3 The Book of Discipline of the UnitedMethodist Church, 2016, ¶102