Often the question arises as to why there is so much evil in the world and yet God is said to be so good and so powerful. Many people do not believe in God because they cannot fathom how a good and almighty God would allow so much evil to take place in the world. Why is there suffering? Why can’t everything just go right and we all live happily ever after? I have thought about this question for a long time now and I am still contemplating it and its implications.
There is one thing that stands out with this problem of pain and it is the concept of way. It is because of a particular “way” that the world is the way it is today. The determinant of the direction of anything is dependant on the corresponding way of that thing. For example, the direction that each individual takes in their life and the things that they hope for and do is directly dependant on the “way” that they live by.
In this lesson, we are going to talk about the “way” and how it influences our lives and the entire Earth. We are going to focus our attention on the ultimate way, which is the WAY of God and how the absence of God’s WAY in the “way” of humans is directly proportionate to the way that the world is today-problems and all.
What is meant by “way?” Consider the following scripture as an illustration.
Matthew 7:13 through Matthew 7:14 (KJV) 13Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
The word “way” in these scriptures, and the context of this lesson, describes a road or path. Other translations such as the NIV, use the word road instead of the word way as in the King James Version. This represents a philosophy or system of operation that is used to accomplish a goal or for government, whether life or organization. The concept of way is not complete unless we consider that we move along the path of choice. That is, we operate using one of two systems in our lives, both individually and collectively.
There are at least two systems that we can use in our lives. They are God’s WAY or the way of self. Let’s look at an illustration in the Bible where the two ways clash.
1 Samuel 8:4 through 1 Samuel 8:5 (NCV) 4So all the older leaders came together and met Samuel at Ramah. 5They said to him, “You’re old, and your sons don’t live as you do. Give us a king to rule over us like all the other nations.”
1 Samuel 8:4 through 1 Samuel 8:7 (NCV) 4So all the older leaders came together and met Samuel at Ramah. 5They said to him, “You’re old, and your sons don’t live as you do. Give us a king to rule over us like all the other nations.” 6When the older leaders said that, Samuel was not pleased. He prayed to the LORD, 7and the LORD told Samuel, “Listen to whatever the people say to you. They have not rejected you. They have rejected me from being their king.
In short, the people rejected God’s WAY and decided to initiate another way to govern their affairs. You may think that they may have been justified because of the Samuel’s son’s behavior. However, there is nothing that could justify abandoning God’s WAY. Remember that a “way” is a system of operation. Therefore, they should have operated according to God’s system to resolve the problem with Samuel’s sons instead of abandoning it.
Consider another illustration.
Psalm 1:1 through Psalm 1:3 (KJV) 1Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
Notice the reference to walking (as on a path). Standing in the way of sinners implies one of two things depending on how you look at this scripture. The first way is to look at the word way in terms of a road or path as we have already described. Therefore, the scripture implies that a person is blessed if they don’t take their stance (abide in) the road of sinners. Another way to look at this scripture is in terms of the WAY being the road to salvation. In other words, we don’t get in the way of people trying to get to Christ. In either case, the word way represents a road or path; however, the first perspective is more consistent with the context of the scripture.
Consider the following scripture.
John 14:5 through John 14:6 (KJV) 5Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Jesus Christ is the path to God. He is our link to the father in that we can only get to God through him and that he is the very image of God so that if we follow him we can do what is desired and required by God. Operating in God’s WAY requires a knowledge of his Kingdom. His Kingdom can be thought of as God’s system of operation. For example, you may have heard of Tae Kwon Do, Karate-Do, Jeet Kune Do, and other martial arts names. The word “Do” in its various forms means “way of.” Karate-do really means the way of the empty hands and Jeet Kune Do means the way of the intercepting fist. They both represent a philosophy that technique (activity) is based on. The same holds true for us.
Our general activities are governed primarily by a particular philosophy or system. This system may be according to God’s WAY or our way. Consider the following scripture.
Matthew 6:33 (KJV) 33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Our task is to seek the Kingdom of God and then to live by it. The New Testament gives a massive amount of information on doing things God’s WAY. The Christian faith is entered by God’s WAY and requires a life according to God’s WAY. The way of self is centered on our own selfish goals and desires.
Only One Way
Ultimately we can only effectively operate under one system. Consider the following scripture.
Matthew 6:24 (NCV) 24“No one can serve two masters. The person will hate one master and love the other, or will follow one master and refuse to follow the other. You cannot serve both God and worldly riches.
Either we abide by the Kingdom of God (God’s way or system of operation) or we do our own thing. The Bible succinctly describes the WAY of God. The New Testament is full of the instruction that we need to live according to God’s WAY. The Old Testament is full of stories and documentation on the “mind” of God so that we can live according to his WAY.
The Consequences of WAY
Humans have collectively decided not to live by God’s way and therefore we suffer the consequences. In general, sin has produced all types of problems. Our decisions affect not only ourselves but others as well. We suffer because humans are collectively evil and ungodly. It is not God that causes the evil in the world; rather he has done so much to oppose it. However, we choose (that is humans collectively) to do things our way.
There is hope and all is not lost because we are salt and light to the world. We are the seeds of God’s goodness if indeed we live according to God’s WAY (live by the Spirit, live a life in Christ, etc.). Our life can be an example to others that God’s WAY works and is more fulfilling then our own way (the way of the world).
The consequences of living God’s way is fulfillment. Living according to God’s way implies obedience to God. We can only live according to God’s system if we obey him and yield our way to him.
Living according to God’s WAY involves the godly condition of the heart else anyone can imitate God’s WAY. Living contrary to a genuine heart after God can mean that you simply imitate God’s way by ideas of goodness, fairness, etc. True righteousness, however, comes from the righteous heart through Jesus Christ.
We are ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor. 5:20). We are the light of the world and the salt of the Earth (Matthew 5:13,14). We are the window to the WAY to God and the WAY of God, which are both provided by Jesus Christ. We are a light of Christ (John 1:1-3). We are the visible manifestation of God’s WAY that the world has to examine. We provide a platform for people to see the goodness and reality of God and to realize that the road they are on leads to death and unfulfillment.
God’s way does not necessarily produce rewards from this world or even fulfillment within the world. God’s way and the abiding by it transcend the world’s system of selfishness and godlessness. Consider how people cheat each other, hoard wealth, and take advantage of others to achieve personal goals. Other things that may not seem important are reckless driving on the highway, inappropriate language, and “church life.” Church is not necessarily a place where God’s way abides especially when we consider the abundance of teachings that promote selfishness and self-gain.
Living by God’s way affects how we treat each other, how we deal with problems, how we deal with good times, how we manage our money, time, and life. Following or not following God’s way will affect us in every way. Ultimately, not following God’s way, which involves salvation (believing in Jesus Christ), will result in eternal damnation.
By William R. Cunningham
Originally prepared (c) December 2, 1999