A: In reality, you both are partly right, but you both are also partly wrong! Let me explain.
On one hand, you have understood a very important truth about God: He is absolutely holy and perfect, and sin is an offense to Him. The reason is because when we sin, we are actually rebelling against Him and telling Him we don’t want Him to interfere in our lives. When the prophet Isaiah was given a vision of God’s holiness, the Bible says he cried out, “Woe to me!... I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5).
But your cousin is also right when she says that God loves us — for He does. The proof is that He sent His Son into the world to give His life for our sins. Would He have done that if He didn’t love us? Of course not.
But listen: God isn’t a vengeful, angry God (as you seem to picture Him). Nor is He so kind and gentle that He never intervenes when we sin or hurt others (as your cousin seems to believe). Instead, He loves us and wants to come into our lives, to cleanse us of sin and make us more like Jesus. By faith ask Christ to come into your life today, and then begin to see God as He really is by making His Word, the Bible, a part of your life every day.
Q: Our church went heavily into debt to build our new building, but now our pastor has left, several families are drifting away, and we’re having a hard time making the mortgage payments. Does the Bible say anything about borrowing lots of money to build a church? — K.R.
A: Christians in the first century didn’t build separate church buildings. Since their numbers were small, they usually met in homes. The Bible, therefore, doesn’t say anything directly about this issue.
The Bible does, however, caution us about the dangers of too much debt, and this situation might have been avoided if your church’s leaders had paid closer attention to this. It points out, for example, that when we owe someone money, our debt easily controls us and becomes our master -- although we may have thought the money would be our servant. The Bible says, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7).
Does this mean it’s wrong for churches to borrow money to improve their facilities — and perhaps reach more people for Christ as a result? No, of course not, as long as it’s done prayerfully and wisely. On the other hand, however, we must never think that elaborate facilities are essential for an effective ministry. If Christ isn’t at the center of a church’s life, God has not promised to bless its work.
May God bring your church’s members closer to each other — and to Himself — during this difficult time. Satan will try to divide you and get you arguing among yourselves; don’t let it happen. Instead, face the future with prayer, and with trust in God’s provision for your needs. The Bible says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
Send your queries to “My Answer,” c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-(877) 2-GRAHAM, or visit www.billygraham.org.