Whether Jesus favoured poverty? Who is responsible for poverty on earth? Why God is not eradicating this evil? The possible argument is this: this is not a prediction, it is a comparison. The disciples are criticizing the woman who has come in and anointed Jesus with expensive oil, saying that the money could have been given to the poor. Jesus is not telling them not to worry about the poor because they are an intractable social ill. What he is saying is that he himself is not going to be around much longer.
When Jesus said, “The poor you will have with you always,” he was quoting Deuteronomy 15:11, but he expected his disciples (and us) to think about the whole passage. Deuteronomy 15 commanded the ancient Israelites to cancel each other’s debt every seven years. Interesting to note that no distinction was made between responsible and irresponsible debt; no matter how people fell into financial distress, they were to be given a clean slate every seven years. Deuteronomy continues: There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open handed toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land. So persistent poverty was anything but acceptable. But the reason for poverty is interesting: There need be no poor people among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands… Deuteronomy 15:4-5. There would always be poor people because the Israelites would not prove as generous as they were meant to be. There would always be poor people because Israel would not cancel everyone’s debts like they were supposed to.
Then what is Ezekiel’s opinion about sin..? What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, “The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge”? 18:2. A child shall not suffer for the iniquity of a parent, nor a parent suffer for the iniquity of a child; the righteousness of the righteous shall be his own, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be his own. 18:20. It is hard to believe the rich on earth are more righteous than the poor.
The question is another unanswerable one, if God is almighty why he allowed a few of his children die in poverty while some of his own children live in luxury? Why he is not controlling the wealth distribution? Another question in line with why God is not preventing a child abuse, a killing, a riot or an unjustifiable act? Can converge to one question, why God allows evil, more generalised, where is the origin of evil?
Romans 11:36, “Everything comes from the Lord”. That obviously excludes evil. So the question is where did evil come from..?
Now, when it comes to the origin of evil, you have several options. One option is this : first of all, there is a cosmic power: unknowable, impersonal, some kind of rational power out there with no personality, no relationship, no ability to connect to us, but some cosmic eternal power, rational power that launched everything in our universe. He is not personal; he cannot know or be known.
Or you can take a second view. You can take the view that God does not even exist. That is the view of the intellectual atheist who says, no, there is no force, there is no power, there is no rational mind, there’s absolutely nothing there. And reality made itself. And since there is no God, there is no evil and there is no good in reality.
Or you could take another view. You can take the view that suffering, and evil, and death don’t really exist. God is good, and therefore everything is good, you just think it’s not good. That is to say that evil is an illusion, suffering is an illusion, and death is an illusion.
Or, you could say God is beyond good and evil. God is transcendent and He cannot be defined by any human concept. That gets very close to first perspective, that God doesn’t even dabble in this stuff down here. He’s way beyond that. Maybe the God of the Deists, he is the God who winds it all up but is unmoved, untouched by any of it.
Or, you can take the view that is rising in popularity today that God has limited power. This is a new theology that is emerging rapidly, and it’s hard to believe this, but in the framework of evangelical Christianity, called “process theology”, the idea that God is in process. That bad things happen because God can’t stop them. This is the struggling God of Rabbi Harold Kushner who wrote “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.”
So, you either believe that God isn’t God, there’s just a cosmic power out there; you believe that God doesn’t exist at all and it’s all just nobody times nothing equals everything; or you believe that suffering sin and death don’t really exist, they’re just an illusion; or you believe that God so transcends all of that stuff that he’s unaffected by it and therefore you protect him responsibility for evil; or you believe that God is in process and that’s the new and popular view, that God really has good desires, but he really is not sovereign enough to get where he wants to get as soon as he would like to get there.
Disobeying the God created evil. Evil is not the presence of something, evil is the absence of righteousness. You can’t create evil because evil doesn’t exist as a created entity. It doesn’t exist as a created reality. Evil became a reality only when creatures chose to do disobey. Evil came into existence initially then in the fall of angels and then next, in the fall of Adam and Eve. Still there is an unanswerable question, if God is good, his creatures also should be good, then how a change in state of mind happened among angels? So at the beginning there is no alteration of thought, an alteration of thought means evil. There is no negative choice if there is no evil at all in the beginning. Again we are back in ground zero.
There should not be be any absence of good, as St Augustine’s answers. Augustine observed that evil could not be chosen because there is no evil thing to choose. One can only turn away from the good, that is from a greater good to a lesser good (in Augustine’s hierarchy) since all things are good. “For when the will abandons what is above itself, and turns to what is lower, it becomes evil–not because that is evil to which it turns, but because the turning itself is wicked.” Evil, then, is the act itself of choosing the lesser good. To Augustine the source of evil is in the free will of persons: “And I strained to perceive what I now heard, that free-will was the cause of our doing ill.” Evil was a “perversion of the will, turned aside from…God” to lesser things.
Interestingly more questions will follow: why God waited to stop the Lucifer till he seduce one third of angels? Why God didn’t prevent the entry of Satan to Eden and why God allowed Adam and Eve to be tempted by Satan?
So the question, why evil happened in the heaven and among pure good angels created by God and why God didn’t prevent the spreading of evil among these angels is unanswerable. Even Jesus didn’t eradicate all the poverty, didn’t release everyone in prison and didn’t give sight to all the blind in a literary meaning.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
What he did is he interfered in the events happened around him. That is all we can do. So the choice is ours again as it was from the beginning. We can be atheist determinist or believer. What ever is, it won’t answer our question but will define in different aspects the events around us and suggest a possible action.
By itself evil cannot make us sin; when we sin we bear the responsibility.Increase, O God, the spirit of neighbourliness among all who dwell on earth, that in peril we may uphold one another, in suffering tend one another, and in loneliness befriend one another. Grant us brave and enduring hearts that we may be strengthened, until the strife of these days be ended and you give peace in our time; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Adapted from To Will One Thing, by William Scarlett, 1994, Forward Movement Publications)