I was sitting on a bench with my friend Mike. Mike is homeless and disgruntled.
He’s also a little depressed. Several of his friends and family have passed away this year. His emotional pain has led him to drink more heavily than usual.
As we sat together he asked the question, “Why do bad people do bad things?”
Pastors love getting to answer questions like this.
I perked up and told Mike about the fall of man. How Adam and Eve chose to rebel against God and bring sin into the world.
“We have to deal with that brokenness,” I told him.
Mike looked at me and nodded his head. He said, “But why do bad people do bad things?”
I tried again. This time, I told Mike about the biblical character Job. Job asked God similar questions but God didn’t really answer them. Instead, God displayed his greatness to Job and Job just shut up and humbled himself before the Creator of the universe.
Mike squinted and wrinkled his nose. He held out his hands in confusion and said, “Yeah, but why do bad people do bad things?”
I recently got to attend a missional conference in Chicago. One of the speakers made a good point about parables.
He pointed out the confusing nature of these little stories of Jesus.
Many people think Jesus told parables to better relate to his listeners.
In reality, Jesus himself said he spoke in parables to make his teaching more difficult to understand.
The speaker suggested that Jesus was creating intrigue with his parables.
That Jesus would tell a cryptic tale that left most people perplexed.
But some people were intrigued. Something stirred in their hearts and they wanted to learn more.
We should share the gospel in similar ways. Seeking to inspire a longing for God rather than simply providing all the answers.
So back to Mike.
Mike and I were sitting next to our ministry’s garden, so I told him a parable of Jesus.
I told Mike that God’s kingdom is like a farmer who goes out to plant wheat seeds. After the farmer plants the seeds and goes to bed, an enemy comes and plants weeds in the farmer’s field. Not only that, but the weeds look like wheat.
One of the farmer’s servants says, “Sir, look at these weeds! Didn’t you plant good seed?”
The farmer says, “Yes, but an enemy has done this to us.”
The servant says, “Do you want me to go and pull the weeds?”
The farmer replies, “No, we don’t want to accidentally pull up the wheat plants. Let’s wait until harvest and separate the weeds then.”
I explained the parable to Mike, based on Jesus’ explanation. I told him how there are good people on earth and evil people. How the good are sons of God and the evil are sons of the enemy. One day, when God judges the world, he’ll sort out the good from the evil.
But until then, we just have to live together.
When I said this, Mike nodded his head and said, “That makes sense.”
My personal interpretation of the bible doesn’t intrigue Mike very much.
But the words of Christ show him the truth of the matter.
So, for Mike’s sake, I think I’ll just quote Jesus as much as possible.