How a Good God Relates to Evil

If you were, ask to put together a list containing ten of the most evil people in the Bible you would find it difficult though there are many to choose from. No doubt you would include Cain – first murderer (Satan excluded), Ahab / Jezebel – fraudulent business Manasseh – child sacrifice, Jeroboam I – Caused Israel to sin (Northern Kingdom), Herod the Great – killer of children, Herodias and Herod Antipas – killed John the Baptist, Judas  betrayed Christ, Pontius Pilate – washed hands. Would you include Joram/Jehoram – killed his brothers, Abimelech – killed 70 brothers, or even Saul – before he became Paul, to make the final ten? For many people the Bible is a beacon of inspiration, a source of wonderful tales, and a unique moral guide. However, if we were to selectively take certain stories in the intellectual we could be greatly mistaken.

However, I want to argue that a place should be found on the list for a little-known character concealed in 1 Samuel, named Doeg the Edomite. The way in which Doeg appears on the scene, wreaks havoc, and disappears offers a great case study about how God relates to evil. A figure of great significance during Saul’s reign, but a man of radically different character, from Saul was Doeg. Doeg, was a close friend of Saul from the days of his youth, but tragically died at the tender age of thirty-four years old.  Nevertheless, at that early age he had been president of the Sanhedrin and in Jewish circles considered the greatest scholar of his time. He was called Edomi, which means, not Edomite, but “he who causes the blush of shame” because by his deep mind and his learning he put to shame all who entered into argument with him. Nevertheless, his knowledge lay only on his lips, as his heart was not concerned in it, and his only ambition was to draw admiration of himself, his ego was uncontrollable. Little wonder, then, that his termination was catastrophic.

At the time of his death, Doeg had sunk so low that he forfeited all share in the life to come. Injured vanity caused his aggression toward David, who had got the better of him, David the only man who outsmarted him in a learned discussion. From that moment, Doeg direct all his energies to the task of ruining David. Doeg tried to poison Saul’s mind against David, by praising the latter inordinately, and so arousing Saul’s jealousy. Also, he would continue highlight David’s Moabite descent to all an sundry, and advocate that on account of it David could not be admitted into the congregation of Israel. Samuel and other prominent men had to bring to bear all the weight of their authority to shield David against the consequences of Doeg’s sophistry.

The bible though, is pack-filled with men of such shady character, and whose actions caused great pain to the recipients. Nehemiah was at the receiving end, “then Sanballat and Geshem sent a message to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together at Chephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they were planning to harm me” (Nehemiah 6:2). King David, “You, O LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel, Awake to punish all the nations; Do not be gracious to any who are treacherous in iniquity. Selah” (Psalm 59:5). Jesus the Messiah did not escape this, “While He was still speaking, behold, a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was preceding them; and he approached Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:47-48). As noted earlier, Doeg life was cut short, a very disastrous end to a unique intellectual. The message of God is always love and offering of forgiveness when we ceased from our evil ways. To those of us who persist in using our lips to destroy, our treacherous actions will result in the same fate.

 The Gospel of Christ is Hope

“Now is the time for judgement on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself…He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die” (John 12: 31-33). The context covers surrounding verses but I will concentrate on John 12:27-33. The sins of humanity troubled God and the coming of His Son Christ was to remove that stain from his image. So when God undertook to redeem and save humanity, He was making His Son an offering for our sins. Jesus Christ was willing to suffer, yet in His prayer, he pleaded to be saved from grief. His prayer against distress may well agree with patience below it, and obedience to the will of God there in. Our Lord Jesus accepted his role in death to satisfy God’s damaged reputation, and he did it by humbling himself to God’s will. God had thundered from heaven, declaring Christ to be his beloved Son, at his baptism, and on the mount of transfiguration, the disciples heard God proclaiming that He had both glorified his name, and would glorify it.

Jesus Christ, reconciling the world to God by the virtue of his death, broke the power of sin that leads to death, and cast out Satan as a slayer of men. Christ, baring human sins on His shoulders transport the world to God by the message of his cross, breakdown the stronghold of sin, and extinguish Satan as a destroyer. Christ offers hope to all, whatever you are going through, it is never the end, there is something more. Humanity that was once alienated from God is now reconciled in Christ, and is brought to love and trust God. Jesus being lifted up to heaven having completed His earthly task would henceforth pull men’s hearts to God. The sky must be your limit. There is power in the blood of Jesus Christ to appeal to man, and entice him toward God. We have heard this from the gospel message, “Jesus saves, Jesus save… spread the news to every land, across the seas and every land, Jesus saves, Jesus saves”. The gospel of Christ offers hope and is that which exalts free grace, and some have contend that it is which directs duty also.  “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12: 13). Humanity therefore must now and always embrace both grace and duty from the heart and not isolated them, we cannot recognise and accept the favour of God and not act on it. However, here is Paul’s advice to the Roman brethren, adding another element, “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Rom. 5: 5). The hope we have in God is something to be proud of, we are redeemed in Christ, and our hope is alive.

Christ offers humanity something more, that no other prophet can offer. Redemption from sin and death, did not come cheaply, it took the son of God. We are lifted out of the earthly realm into a higher plane with God. Humanity, must never allow himself to think that his dream is too big, nor that we can’t make it because, people will think we aim too high. That we are reaching beyond ourselves, beyond our frontier. We should never accept the suggestions of detractors that your hope is out of reach. No matter how many rejection, disappointment, kickbacks, punch in the nose, just roll with the punches. Here is John advice, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” (1 John 2: 1). Satan is a heavyweight boxer, we cannot face him on our own or we will be knocked out. “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted” (Gal. 6: 1). You forgive, restore and forget and think if it was me, I would want to be forgiven, and restored. Not be punished, pointed at and ridiculed. When someone tried and fail, we never put down or criticize, or point finger, we never knows the pressure or difficulty they faced, the road they walked on, why they fail. We are to bear one another’s burdens, so we will fulfil the law of Christ.

This forces us to reciprocal tolerance and compassion towards each other, agreeably to his example. It becomes us to bear one another’s burdens, as fellow travellers. It is very common for us to go on the ego trip, look on ourselves wiser and better than others, and as suitable to dictate to them. Such people deceive themselves by pretending to what we are not, we put a cheating image upon ourselves, and sooner or later will find out the sad effects. This position will never gain approval, neither with God nor with men. Every one of us are advised to prove our own work before God. The better we know our own hearts and ways, the less we will despise others, and the more we will be inclined to help them under infirmities and afflictions. How light every man’s sins seem when we commit, yet the sin will seem a heavy burden, when we come to speak to God about them. No man can pay a ransom for his brother for his sin; it is a burden to the human soul. Sin and its guilt is a spiritual burden that others can empathize with but only Christ can lift and set us free. Remember that as humans we are dead in our sins, and therefore have no sight or sense of the spiritual burden of sin. So that feeling the weight and burden of our sins, we must seek to be free from that burden of guilt by the Christ of God, and be on alert against Satan’s attack. Satan cannot stand before Christ in a battle, though he continues to confront and terrorise, he already lost the fight. Christ is our undisputed champion, the only one that can give the final knock out punch. It’s good to know the Lord is on our side, hope is restored.

How does one differentiate Calling from Ego?

My last article on “Christ: Model of a Servant Leader” highlighted a very dangerous element in the human psyche, the “ego”. There are many scholarly articles, which one can read to get a greater understanding and that address the problem in details. Shelley Prevost article highlighted “5 Ways to Distinguish Your Calling from Your Ego”. It went on to ask, Do you have a real vocation for what you’re doing, or are you just in business for egoistic reasons? Here’s how to tell which one is guiding you, 1. Ego fears not having or doing something. Calling fears not expressing or being something. 2. Ego needs anxiety to survive. Calling needs silence to survive. 3. Ego manifests as burnout. Calling manifests as fulfilment. 4. Ego focuses on the result. Calling focuses on the process. 5. The article said, the ego wants to preserve the self. Calling wants to impact on others. Your ego and your “calling” in life can look surprisingly similar. Both pull you toward the realization of your desires. Both can completely consume your waking (and sometimes sleeping) hours with frenetic thoughts and sparks of brilliance. They can also manifest very similar outcomes, money, fame, and power. Moreover, they can both leave you feeling exhausted. Ego is necessary and important because it does the work to assemble your personality. It manages your fragile identity while you figure out who you are. It protects you from the onslaught of societal expectations and motivates you to work hard and achieve great things.

However, ego alone can also skew you toward thinking that hard work and achievement are the goals in life. If your ego is what assembles your personality and manages your identity, then your calling is invested in making sure it is authentic, whom you really are not just a persona you show the world. Now not many people will admit to be controlled, dominated by the wrong side of their ego, it rules their every action. The following list I picked up off the internet with some cosmetic changes reveals some negative aspects of the ego.

EGO (False Self)        VS      Humanity (True Self)

Me                                           Us/We

Enemy                                     Ally

Separation                               Unity/togetherness

Blame                                     Praise

Hostility                                  Friendliness

Resentment                             Forgiveness

Pride                                       Humble

Ungrateful                              Gratefulness

Jealousy                                  Co-happiness

Anger                                      Happiness/joy

Power seeker                          Humility

Materialism                            Spiritualism

Madness                                  Wisdom

Hate                                        Love

War                                         Peace

Coldness                                 Warmness

Past Oriented              Now/Future oriented

Intolerant                    Tolerance

Self-importance          Self-denial

Egoism                        Altruism

Self-debasing              Self acceptance

Injuring                       Healing

Impolite                      Polite

Hard/complex             Simplicity

Social intolerance       Social acceptance

Not an exhausted list, but we get the picture. Ego manifests itself in so many areas of our attitude and behaviours. The only weapon against our ego trip is spirituality, our standing before God. Gossip may not readily be seen as ego, but look at what it does to you and the body of Christ. Is it any wonder the church is so heavy and lacks genuine spirituality? Is it any wonder our spiritually is short lived, excitable singing at praise & worship, but when singing stop we load our “tongue pistol” and assassinate? The songs we sing and the sermon we just listen to are soon forgotten. When the fruit of the spirit is manifested in us, “once becoming saints”, it will root out the seed of gossip that spread hate. We pick up a gossip; cannot prove it is so but readily we believe it, why? Naturally, it is because the love of God is not genuine in us. If we love our brother/sister who is created in the image of God, we will never spread a tale about them.

Therefore, we need to demonstrate love in how we deal with or treat each other. Never repeat a matter unless you can confirm categorically that it is true, God is against it. The spirit of God does not enter into guesswork, we listen, assume and readily a gossip is true. In addition, tale bearing is a crime against the spirit of God and against our brother/sister. We are committing murder, “pistol tongue” killing people! What are our motives in gossiping, spreading lies and hate? Is it not that we lack the simple but powerful thing called love? Is it not that we cannot control the ego of self-importance, which causes the tongue to lash out and destroy? Remember the sayings of an anonymous writer; small minds discuss people’s lives and personal business, this destroys. Great minds discuss ideas, theories, programmes that lifts and builds an organisation, how to acquire knowledge, education and how to progress, it builds. Which are we?

Christ: Modelling Servant Leadership

Very often, this question is posed either in the media, in our personal presence, or directly to us, it is, “what makes a good leader?” I sometimes wonder if people are having a laugh when they asked and usually it is when some public figure, perceived great leader end up failing. Then the daggers are out, the diagnosis starts, analysts comments, and sociologist are asked to give their take on the failings of modern leaders. The question is not unique to secular leaders, as many Christian organisations daily are faced with the same question and mainly in light of continuing failings of those public leaders, they voted in or appointed to office. As if to put me in the spotlight, the question frequently is aimed in my direction. I sometimes wonder if it is a test to misrepresent my position, to trip me up or to see whether I understand the art of biblical leadership. Whatever is the reason, I am very suspicious, as I am made aware of the constant dripping and transmission of guided or unguided comments, “he is a critic” label. Regardless of their motives I never shy away from saying what I think, what are biblically sound teachings, so they hold no power over me. Self appointed ones, or organisationally appointed un-gifted, in it for the money, prestige and power will huff and puff and blow you away if you dare to question their motives for office. Godly gifted and experienced leaders on the other hand thrives on criticism, to them this is fuel to improve and prove critics wrong. Learned people knows the only way an organisation will survive, is taking a critical look at itself, adapt and change to what works,the Jesus Christ model. The biblical prophets never shied away from being labelled “controversial”, speaking out against errors even under threat to their personal safety. They were the most abused, criticized, beaten, rejected, chastised, rebuked, and frowned upon people in society. However, they knew their walk with God was not a popularity contest, never a road to be recognized, praised of men or given a medal. Their walk with God was often a lonely one, the road less travelled, not a road packed with big up their chest, I am he, I have made it, this is my territory, dare you criticise, you will never arrive.

Clear evidence of how little modern leaders know of the bible, they so resolutely claim to know, and lacks understanding of what a biblical leadership model looks like. A research in the US reveals important information; evidence of what many of us knows but is too afraid to say, for far too long. The investigation shows only 2 % of current church leaders are in the right position, the right calling. In other words, 98% of people in leadership are not in the right position, serving in the right role, so occupying or blocking a place that is not biblically right for them. Yet many wonder why the church is not progressing, advancing and making a difference, turning the world upside down, as the early Christians did. The research took sample from various churches, and is not unique to any specific organisation; it is international and covers a wide field. Very shocking figure indeed, but it does not make headlines because many are accepted by the congregations based on popularity or they ticked all the boxes of our tastes, our likes and dislikes, our personal concepts of leadership, and not the bible. Some who never understand simple biblical themes, church doctrines, have no behaviour in church are making decision about who should lead and what leader they want. When people are blatantly failing, but an administration just move them from one place to another to repeat the same mistakes, the whole administration are under indictment before God and man.

Many leaders know they do not belong the moment they are appointed, but because no standards are set, they follow and do as they are told, they follow the crow, they want to fit in. Then they big up their chest, lord it over, dictate their own ideas and make people feel small and inferior because they use that position to inflate their own ego. Too many of today’s leaders are on an ego trip, inflation of the self, the mentality of “my position lifts me above you, I am in charge”. From where then, does this ego trip style of leadership emerged and which develops into an unmoveable brick wall, an untamed, unconquerable dragon? For me two things immediately emerged, the first is many churches have lost sight of the biblical view, Jesus model leadership, lacking biblical knowledge, we claim leaders do not need training and appoint the ones we like, they don’t criticise or rock the boat. However, leadership training goes back to Moses and the Old Testament priesthood system, continues up to Christ who set the New Testament standard by training His disciples as to what is required in leadership. “Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them…Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (Matt. 20: 25-26). “But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves” (Luke 22: 26). Sensational, did you get that? That is powerfully potent message my friends! Nevertheless, who is listening, and why do we tolerate such abuse of leadership positions? Christ is saying his kind of leadership is that of a servant leader! So you are not anyone’s boss, you listen to the people they are your boss! It is obvious then that we do not follow the biblical model of leadership because either we do not know the biblical concepts, or we know but ignore it because of our personal need to be seen as important. That is falsity, and a misrepresentation of Christ.

Second, the biblical leader is based on giftedness, if you do not have the gift of leadership you have no right accepting that appointment and being in a leadership position. Romans 12, I Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4 make it very clear that positions in the church are based on being spiritually gifted. The gifts are given so the church may be led by God, functionally balanced, and therefore have a universal appeal. I will make the bold statement that the reason behind the mediocre performance of the church is that we have leaders in the wrong positions. We often pay lip service the phrase “you cannot fit a square peg in a round hole”, but until people in the churches realise the full significance of the phrase, it will never change. Many misapplied the advice that the Apostle Paul gave to Timothy, as advocating a ministry free for all. “Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task” (I Tim. 3:1). This would leave Paul open to accusations of double standards and would fly in the face of the advice he give earlier that ministry position are based on God given gifts. However, neither Paul nor the Bible in general believes that every church member so inclined should pursue the office of a bishop. Though there are many interpretations as to what Paul meant, there is no reason why the rendering of this formula adopted in 1Tim. 1: 15, faithful is this saying,” should be changed here. The “faithful saying” could be referring to the aspiration for high and difficult work in the Church and so he confirmed such a desire to be a principled one. For the office of a bishop in those days was apparently beautiful and honourable, and in those days meant demanding and unceasing work, being in serious and endless risk. The fact that so many today are pursuing the position for alternative reasons, filthy lucre, and ego devalues the position, as many pursue it for monetary gain, and to be seen of men. The office of a bishop is not a position for novices or the unlearned. Neither is it meant for personal aggrandization but only to promote the gospel message of Christ.

Perhaps the clearest articulation of Jesus’ view on leadership is at the point in Matthew’s gospel where the mother of James and John asks Jesus if her sons can sit with him, one on his right hand the other on his left in is Kingdom. Jesus goes on to explain his idea of leadership. Matthew 20:25, Luke 22:26) Jesus is a servant leader, not motivated by his personal desire for power or status, but to serve. Jesus was prepared to serve everyone, even the one who would ultimately betray him. To illustrate this, he the Son of God, washes the feet of his disciples before the last supper (John 13: 1-20). In doing this, he enhanced rather than diminishes his position as their teacher. Jesus’ and therefore God’s relationship with humankind is wonderfully illustrated in Luke and Mark’s gospel about the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35, Mark 16:12- 13).

Two followers of Jesus were walking away from Jerusalem, discouraged by the events of the previous days. They had believed that Jesus was the Messiah to redeem Israel, but he had ended up dead. Put yourself in the place of the two dejected men walking from the Jerusalem. Then Jesus suddenly joined with them. The nature of the discussion and of Jesus actions gives us a beautiful insight into his style of leadership. Jesus proceeds to give them what must have been the most terrific bible study of all time, “Then, beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them all the passages of Scripture about himself” (Luke 24: 27). When they got to Emmaus, Christ does not presume to want to over stay his welcome, giving more than an indication he wanted to move on. He leaves it up to the men to invite him to stay longer with them, and they invited him. It is then in the breaking of the bread that they recognize him. Here is a lesson on etiquette, Jesus did not forcing himself on the men. Rather as a true servant leader, he met them where they were, educated them, opens their eyes to the reality of his ministry and paving the way for them to come to their own conclusions. Their eyes were open that very hour and they got up and hurried back to Jerusalem to tell their story, the story we have today. Jesus influenced many diverse people during his ministry but compelled no one to follow Him. In the Emmaus story, Jesus is getting alongside these two men at a time of need, keeping his identity from them, teaching them, empowering them to make up their own minds, exercising the power of freedom to conclude and choose to believe.

Now many have seen different models, rendition and interpretations of leadership. However, a good teacher – Jesus the Christ of God, inspires hope for tomorrow – the gospel, ignite the imagination – yes you can overcome your circumstances, and instil love – for God and fellow man. It is a fact that many earthly leaders do not have all the answers, but the gifted just need that ability to inspire us to search for and find the answers. John Quincy Adams, former president of the United States of America once said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”. I often hear a very inspirational phrase that gives me much hope, “If Christ led you to it, He will take you through it”. It is a fact that no man can take you further than he has gone himself. Many wants to be leader and they have not the gift; neither have they been trained to lead. Any wonder the church is operating under 2% of its capacity and capability. The church then have a responsibility to raise their game, rise above nepotism and chose the biblically spiritually inspired gifted and trained leaders Christ desired, not only for the good of the organisation, but for the saving of many souls to the kingdom of God. What the church can learn from Christ model of leadership is that it is not about a title, prestige or a designation. Rather it is about the full impact of the gospel, influencing and inspiring young men and women to take up the baton and run with patience the race set before us. Our leadership process must be about getting results, influencing others and spreading the passion for lost souls, and not suppressing or driving them away. The biblically gifted and inspired leader inspire his colleagues, “I want to do what he did”, and his team to win, “he sets the benchmark” for Christ.

  1. Now hear this, 1. Biblical spiritually gifted and trained leader apologies when he offends people and his apology should be sincere, specific, and public when needed. Leaders who admit and apologize for their errors are viewed as stronger, not weaker.
  2. Biblical spiritually gifted and trained leader knows how to handle his employees. Great leaders know a first-rate employee regrets an honest mistake. The leader listens to and speaks with the employee to learn what caused the error, how to avoid making it again it in the future, and how to best handle it now.
  3. Biblically trained gifted and trained leader knows how to respond to an important personal life event. Workers never forget when their leader supports them in both joyful and tragic situations such as funerals, weddings, child’s illness, etc.