Why do people starve under the aegis of a beneficent God?

Monday Musings for March 08, 2021

Good morning, Musers,

I hate it that people around the world are starving! That’s one of the inequities we will not likely conquer in this age. After Christ comes back, however, there will be plenty to eat — if indeed we eat! — but until then, it’s up to us to feed the world. So, how should we Christians proceed?

Well, Christ-ians should start with the Christ… so what would Jesus do? I know… I know… that’s such a cliché! Nevertheless, it’s a good place to start…. or is it? That query doesn’t get at the facts. To do that, I need to adjust our query. Instead of asking, what would Jesus do? let’s ask, what did Jesus do? — because, on that, we have a lot of relevant data. Jesus did not cure world hunger — not even a little!

Now, he did multiply some loaves and some fishes, but he did that as a sign. And although he was the Bread of Life (John 6:35), he did nothing to alleviate world hunger! He addressed some hunger-related issues… like telling us that the poor will always be with us (Matthew 26:11) … and that we should not worry so much about our sustenance (Matthew 6:25-33) … but these implied that we would always be striving to feed ourselves. I assume that God made us this way for a reason. So, why, God? Why did you make us so we require food?

Our first order of business is to take Jesus off the hook. But the only reason we can do that is because we — his followers — belong squarely on that hook instead. We are Jesus’ hands and feet until he returns. So, although Jesus did not personally relieve world hunger on his first trip, we should. In fact, Christianity has a wonderful track record of doing just this!

You see, we “get it” that we can’t just bring the gospel and say, “Peace — be filled!” — and largely, we haven’t. Where the gospel has gone, food has gone, education has gone, and the advancement of women has gone. Our impulse to relieve people’s hunger — that ubiquitous and perennial need — has opened many doors for the gospel. It’s almost like God planned it that way! It’s like he wanted to test our obedience and test our hearts. The result is that we have changed the world’s infrastructure.

Christianity is responsible for much social progress which is now taken for granted. In fact, much of it has been absorbed and secularized. But I see that as the world telling us, “Well done!” ... without admitting that it was us who founded those universities and hospitals.

But the thing we have not been able to do is provide food for everyone in the world. This is a shame because the world has more than enough food to feed everybody! But sin has skewed that enterprise. Sometimes it’s profit, and sometimes it’s politics... but the result is the same: millions of marginalized people die of starvation every year… while we look on.

Starvation comes in handy for the skeptics, though; it gives them a reason to beat us up. Hunger is ubiquitous and horrific… and it’s something an omnipotent God could fix if he existed — and do you know what? He could! But that’s not what is going on in this age. In this age, God is testing everyone’s morality, and part of that is testing our obedience as Christians. No one should be feeding more hungry people than the Body of Christ (1 John 3:17) … no one.

(Click here to read the article referenced above. For comments, or to join the Monday Musings mailing list, contact us at mainsailep@gmail.com. To submit a question about God, the Bible or the Christian culture, click here.)